Coast to Coast: Day 4 – 330 miles

Standard

Day 4 – 330 miles

Jess and I successfully made it to California. Life kept me away from finishing our travel blog, but now I can.

The far left point is Schoolhouse Rock (11,440 ft.), roughly center of the pictured ridge is The Diamond (11,720 ft.), and far right is Old Main (11,755 ft.)

The far left point is Schoolhouse Rock (11,440 ft.), roughly center of the pictured ridge is The Diamond (11,720 ft.), and far right is Old Main (11,755 ft.)

My wife and I woke up the next day feeling refreshed. We took our time getting ready because we were planning on only driving about 300 miles to Evanston. Because of this, we took a more scenic route through the Snowy Range Mountains along Wyoming Highway 130. It is a very beautiful drive. I recommend it to you if you happen to be in southeastern Wyoming.

The rest of the drive across southern Wyoming, however, is rather boring. The 300 miles along Interstate 80 in Wyoming is desolate. It’s the high desert plains. Absolutely nothing to see, unless you like construction crews. Move along.

There are two seasons in Wyoming - Winter and construction

There are two seasons in Wyoming – Winter and construction

We stopped in Evanston, WY. We stayed that night with my grandma and had a good time playing volleyball with my extended family. Being a veteran of trips to Las Vegas, my grandmother helped us plan our route through Utah. After some home cooking, a rare treat from grandma these days, and another good night’s sleep, we headed out the next morning for Las Vegas.

-FreakyRO

I swear there is a chipmunk in there right in the middle

I swear there is a chipmunk in there right in the middle

Stats:

  • Pics taken along Wyo 130: 26
  • Pics taken along I-80: 0
  • Switchbacks traversed: 6
  • Number of times explained switchbacks to wife: 3
  • Number of flies that chased our dog: Infinity
The Overland Trail marker between Laramie and Centennial

The Overland Trail marker between Laramie and Centennial

The Snowy Range from a distance

The Snowy Range from a distance

Day 3 – Friends and Family

Standard

Day 3 – Friends and Family

After driving for fifteen hours, it was nice to sleep late. In Laramie, Jess and I stopped at a family friend’s house to rest up. They were so welcoming, and even though they were out of town, they still let us crash at their pad. The reason we stopped in Laramie was twofold. First, to see friends I haven’t seen in ten years or so. Second, to visit with my son.

Myself, Jess, and my son

Myself, Jess, and my son

At fourteen years old, my son is tall and skinny. Not skinny, lanky. Same as me when I was that age, or so my mom tells me. As big a nerd as I am, we talked video games, Star Wars and Lego. He is definitely my son.

As these things go, there is never enough time. After a couple pictures and hugs all around, Jess and I were back on our way into Laramie.

Graffiti from the ladies room at the Buckhorn. Classy

Graffiti from the ladies room at the Buckhorn. Classy

We spent the rest of the afternoon driving around and seeing friends that I haven’t seen since college. We went to the Buckhorn Bar and reminisced about fun times and shenanigans. Had dinner at Lovejoy’s, surprised to still be recognized on sight after a decade or so. We even stopped in Centennial and said a quick, “Hi. Bye.” It was nice taking that trip down memory lane.

After dinner and drinks, Jess and I went back to our friend’s house to crash. After 24 hours of hard driving, it was nice to take a day and rest up.

 

A common sight in Wyoming

A common sight in Wyoming

-FreakyRO

Stats:

  • Friends visited: 14
  • Drinks had: 22
  • Memories revisited: 58
  • Jokes at my expense: 6
  • Jokes at others’ expense: 0
  • Taxidermied animals seen: 74

Coast to Coast: Day 2 – 1,020 miles

Standard

Day 2 – 1020 miles

Usually Jess and I sleep in whenever we get the chance. On this morning however, we were up at 6:00 a.m. without the use of an alarm. I guess eleven hours of sleep is enough for the body after being up for 24 hours, fifteen of those on the road. It was glorious sleep, too. The kind of sleep where you wake up slowly after a full night’s rest, and just hover in that half-sleep zone for fifteen minutes right before you wake up. It was a good thing, too. We were driving to Laramie, Wyoming.

1020 miles west of Chicago is Laramie, WY. I went to college in this little town, and the wife and I were going to stay there for the night, hopefully catching up with some friends. Unfortunately, it’s about a fifteen hour drive across some of the most boring highways in the U.S. If you’ve ever driven through Iowa and Nebraska, then you know what I am talking about, if you haven’t, I’ll spare you the details. Just know that the highlight of the trip was driving by the world’s largest truck stop.

World's biggest truck stop

World’s biggest truck stop

The most difficult aspect of driving long hours is staying focused. When you’re driving on a mundane highway with nothing to break up the scenery it gets a little hypnotizing. Add that to the thump-thump thump-thump rhythm of the road, and it is difficult not to zone out.

Jess and I were trying to find ways to pass the time and stay alert. I put out the idea of listening to a movie on the iPad over the Bluetooth in the car. It worked well, but was too distracting for me to listen to as I was driving. I kept trying to watch the movie in Jess’s lap. No bueno.

Nothing

Nothing

We found something else to occupy our time on the long drives while talking with my mom. She mentioned that she used to listen to books on tape, so Jess and I downloaded an audio book. The Name of the Wind  by Patrick Rothfuss. I’ve read this book a few times – it’s one of my favorite books – but Jess doesn’t read much. I hoped that she would like it, and so far, sixteen hours into the audio book, Jess says that she’s enjoying it. It definitely helps to pass the time.

It was a long day of driving, but we made it to Laramie. We stopped at the Lincoln Memorial rest area, about ten miles east of Laramie, which, at 8,640 feet in elevation, is the highest point on I-80. It is also close to the town of Buford, which has a legit population of one. There’s not much to see out here, but what there is to see is eclectic in nature.

I think we need more busts of Lincoln in this counry

Giant head of Abraham Lincoln

-FreakyRO

Stats:

  • Starting miles: 74,678
  • Ending miles: 75,698
  • Miles traveled: 1,020
  • Total miles traveled: 1,954
  • Cattle seen: 254
  • No. of times I used cattle to hide flatulence: 6
  • Busts of Lincoln seen: 1
  • Number of times stopped for gas: 4
  • Number of times stopped to pee for Jess: 8

Coast to Coast: Day 0ne – 934 Miles

Standard

After a day of goodbyes, packing, and hanging out with friends and family, the wife and I finally got on the road. A little after six in the evening we were on our way out of Virginia Beach. First Stop – Fredericksburg, VA.

The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins

The advantage that both my wife and I have is that all of our immediate families live very close to each other. This makes it easy to visit. Also, most of our friends are pretty close, but a few have left the area we grew up in. One of these friends lives out in Fredericksburg with his wife and son. We had a good visit with them. They made steak and potatoes for dinner and we played a round of Munchkin.

We left Fredericksburg a little after midnight and planned on stopping in Chicago to visit a college friend. We drove through the night and it was pretty uneventful. At one point we were directed off the Pennsylvania Turnpike because it was closed for construction. The detour lead us through the backwoods of the Allegheny Mountains. A dark, two lane highway with switchbacks and hills. It would have been a nice drive during the day. At night my wife could only hum the opening melody to dueling banjos.

Sunrise came and with it, a landscape of flatness and boring. Nothing for as far as the eye can see. The only things to break the monotony were the occasional gas station/Starbucks/Burger King/generic restaurant rest stops. Having driven cross country several times, this was not a surprise to me, my wife, however, was curious and wondered how people could live out in the middle of nowhere. I think her exact words were, “I’d do meth too if I lived out here.”

Nowheresville       Pop - 4

Nowheresville
Pop – 4

For the most part traffic was great. Not a lot of construction and no congestion. Chicago, however, was a different story. According to the GPS there were about thirteen miles left on our route to the hotel. Those thirteen miles were full of vehicles and bumper-to-bumper traffic, driving not much faster than fifteen to twenty miles per hour. At this point my wife and I had been up for more than twenty four hours and we were tired and snapping at each other. That kind of tired where you feel it in your eyes and the more you keep them open, the more they burn.

Sears Tower, or, if you're being correct, Willis Tower

Sears Tower, or, if you’re being correct, Willis Tower

We did make it to the hotel with only minor verbal incidents. The Best Western in Morton Grove, IL. It is a nice, clean, hotel that allowed pets for a small ten dollar fee and a fifty dollar refundable deposit. Since we had the dog with us we were concerned about finding hotel rooms. Many that we looked at in the area added an extra $50 – $100 to the room rate, and that was per night. We were happy when we found this Best Western that only charged the ten with the refundable deposit. The best part about the room, though, was its bed.

Guard Dog Hurley

Guard Dog Hurley

Jess and I took showers (Our only complaint about the room: the shower had no water pressure. It was like the shower was peeing on us) had a bite to eat, and went right to bed. Got up four hours later, ate some more, and went back to bed. It was glorious.

Our post dinner dinner

Our post dinner dinner

-FreakyRO

Stats:

  • Starting miles: 73,744
  • Ending miles: 74,678
  • Miles traveled: 934
  • Cattle seen: 0
  • Sears Towers seen: 1
  • Odors smelled: 42
  • Number of times stopped for gas: 3
  • Number of times stopped to pee for Jess: 7

 

Coast to Coast: Prologue

Standard

Having finished loading all of our possessions into my wife’s 2010 Hyundai Santa Fe, we were ready for the start of our trip – albeit, five hours later than I originally wanted to leave. The first leg of the trip was easy – a quick jaunt from Point Lookout, NY, to Virginia Beach, VA.

Leaving Long Island was more difficult than I thought it would be. My wife and I made many friends here, and it was difficult saying goodbye to them all. We were there for less than a year, and yet it felt like we were leaving family.

After saying our goodbyes – and picking up our laundry from various friends’ houses – we hit the road. We had about eight hours of driving in front of us to Virginia Beach. After a quick stopover in Delaware to visit the godparents, we would be 397 miles closer to our destination.

The first leg was uneventful – except for the little part on the Jersey Turnpike where Siri apparently didn’t want me to use the “cars only” lane and directed me off the Turnpike to immediately do a U-turn to get right back on the Turnpike. Good job Siri. I see we will be using Google Maps for our GPS needs from now on.

So, it will be a week in Virginia Beach with the family, in-laws, and a host of friends, then on to California. Coast to coast in a week. That’ll be easy. Me, the wife, our dog, and everything we own (that we didn’t leave with the family) trekking cross country.

-FreakyRO

This is How I Play

Standard

I recently downloaded Hitman: Absolution over Xbox Live (if you’re unfamiliar with the ‘Games With Gold’ program I highly recommend you check it out) and I absolutely love this game. I haven’t played a Hitman game since the PlayStation 2, so I’m a little rusty on the overarching storyline, but I know enough to jump right in.

The player plays as Agent 47, a hit man in the International Contract Agency (ICA). As the game starts 47 is given a contract to take out his previous handler, Diana Burnwood, whom he trusted, before she went rogue. Diana kidnapped a valuable asset to the company: a teenage girl named Victoria. Agent 47 infiltrates Diana’s mansion and eventually finds Diana and wounds her mortally, but before she dies she entrusts the care of Victoria to Agent 47 and gives him an envelope to read with more information.

This is where knowing the whole backstory of Agent 47 would come in handy, but the game does a decent job of bringing new players to the series up to speed. From my very limited understanding of the games, Agent 47 was basically raised by the ICA to be a silent killing machine, along with many other Agents, to do their bidding around the world. Now he wants revenge or salvation or maybe absolution. But I digress.

What I enjoy about this game is that I can play each stage however I feel. If I want to be super sneaky and not kill anybody but my targets, I can. If I choose to go in guns blazing, killing everything that move, I can. If I want a hybrid run-and-gun now, then hide in this closet until everybody’s chill, I can play it that way. Different ways present different challenges to the player, but I can play the game however I want. I am not forced into some stealthy section of a shooter, nor am I forced to shoot my way out of every situation I get Agent 47 into.

Because of this freedom I try to play the game true to myself. If I were to be a super killing machine that infiltrates heavily guarded areas to take down high priority targets with no one being the wiser, I would do so with little or no collateral damage. No innocent deaths or casualties. Period. This even goes for the lackeys that don’t know any better. It’s not their fault they end up working for an evil corporation while trying to put bread on the table and a roof over their families’ heads. So I restart levels an indefinite amount of times until I get through with only killing the assigned target.

All of that honor among thieves crap went right out the window when I got to the orphanage level. To sum it up, a sadistic villain found out where Agent 47 stashed Victoria and plans on kidnapping her for ransom. Luckily Agent 47 arrives before they find her. Unfortunately, the staff, made up of brothers and sisters of the cloth, isn’t so lucky. As Agent 47 carries Veronica to safety, albeit very short lived, he sees priests and nuns that were gunned down and slaughtered. Innocent casualties in the gangs attempt to find Veronica.

I know that Agent 47 is a silent assassin, but I could not let these egregious crimes go unpunished. I killed every last goon in that orphanage. I used my fiber wire to garrote as many as I could before being spotted, then I opened up with my dual SMGs and Mossberg shotgun. When their backup arrived they received the same righteous punishment as their compatriots. It was a bloodbath. When I, ahem, Agent 47 was finished, he looked upon the blood stained walls and the dead bodies of the wicked, and saw that it was good.

Not many games garner this kind of reaction out of me. Dishonored was one (I did the same thing after Corvo was betrayed by the people he was working with). When I play in character, I stay in character. That makes the game even more fun for me, when I don the mantle, I become Agent 47. I believe that Agent 47 would do the same.

Back

More than 30 days since last post

 

-FreakyRO

Stats:

  • Current Streak – 1 day
  • Longest Streak – 117 days
  • Total Gamerscore – 68,590
  • Lifescore – 75

An Open Letter to Jeremiah Tolbert: Dogs are Man’s Best Friend

Standard

Recently, a friend of mine posted a rage-filled tirade on the sycophantic nature of dogs. Go check it out here. Rather than immediately taking up the keyboard and retorting with a scathing attack on his person and political affiliations – only commies hate dogs – I took my four-legged, canine companion out for a stroll and found my center.

Dear Mr. Tolbert,

After reading your post titled “Dogs Are Sycophants” I felt angry, then confused, then a bit nauseous – although that last bit may have been from the Jameson. I wasn’t angry because you are not a dog person, not everybody is. Nor was I angry about the fact that you prefer to put in “some real bloody effort” to gain the affection of the minions of Beelzebub. We have religious freedom in this country, and I guess that even includes ritual sacrifice to the Prince of Darkness. I was angry about the baseless accusations you direct toward the canis familiarus and the seemingly blind eye you turn towards your cats’ machinations. Please allow me to share some knowledge with you.

First off, dogs are sniff asses, not kiss asses, as you so blithely put it. I have yet to see a dog walk up to another dog, or human, and do anything but sniff the ass region. You know what? There is an actual scientific reason for this. It’s how they get to know each other. It’s like you and I meeting on the street and saying hi to each other. That’s what they do. I’m pretty sure the only ass my dog kisses, or licks, is her own.

Secondly, cats secretly hate all humans. Oh, I know how they can be cute and cuddly, and I do enjoy the purring affections of a happy cat, but they are only using us until they evolve opposable thumbs and take over the world by suffocating all of us in our sleep. It is a proven fact that cats steal your breath while you are sleeping (I saw that on Fox News). Trying to “convince a cat that you’re not the Devil” just lines up with their plans. Every cat knows that the true Devil is inside of them.

Finally, dogs are tuned to your emotions. Maybe your mother’s dogs “pile on [you]” because you are so happy to be visiting your mom and they pick up on that. They want to share the joy and, unfortunately for you, that involves including you in their dog pile. Next time you visit your mom’s I recommend punching yourself in the genitalia or watching Bambi. Either of those actions will put you in the right mindset for your mother’s dogs to not be so happy to see you.

I hope you have learned a little from my rant. I hope it helps you to cope with the drooling, whining, and tail wagging. I hope science has helped you to see that dogs are, truly, a man’s best friend.

-F