Sunday, May 31, 2009

The small dots

Sat afternoon delivery went very well. I spent extra time unwrapping and detailing the boat one last time (I wanted that thing spotless). I was somewhat impressed at how the boat held up from all of the road bashing I put it through for the last 2800 miles. There was absolutely nothing out of it's place when I opened it. That's the sign of a good packing engineer.

The day was warm and sunny and fairly gusty out around the lake, but I heard it has been raining for the last three days so we really lucked out or must have brought a little sunny weather with us. We launched, and oriented Ann Marie with her new toy on the way back to her dock. She was very happy and all set for a great summer.

Just like that our trip takes on a totally new direction. Today we find ourselves meandering around on offbeat roads discovering little bits of americana stashed around. We made it a point to take the roads less traveled. The tiny roads on the map that lead to the tiny dots. It took forever to get across one state, but we saw much more. It might have been because we were stopping quite often too.

We really wandered way off (it was a dirt road) on a tip that brought us to Sugartree Farms. It is a working maple syrup plantation but since it is slightly off season they were into their other mode of aging cheddar cheeses. They gave out samples of all 18 different varieties of their cheese(some aged 36 months) and 3 of their amazing maple grades. Very tasty. We also toured the grounds and learned about how it takes 44 gallons of tree sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. Those had better be special pancakes!

The history hidden in all of the valleys is amazing. The buildings cannot be described and show samples of construction techniques that aren't done any more. The communities built around them all have such charm and I bet most people just see it all as everyday construct that occupies the dirt. Probably not. It's all cool stuff and they know it too.

Another totally random drive-by/stop had us walking down some tracks of history when we found a collection of train cabooses on a sidetrack in a small town we were passing through. There were also some rail cars there too. Nobody was around so we couldn't find out anything about them tho. Some of these looked very weathered and original and others restored. A few even had For Sale signs on them. No, Paula wouldn't let me take one home. It would have been a tough fit on the trailer anyway.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Between the mountains and plains

Here are some notes from the trip out. Paula would get inspired and bust out the laptop and rattle off a few lines as we drove out. We now we have great wifi to post them.
Our second official day finds us rolling out of the rest stop after an all too brief 3 hour nap before heading toward Flagstaff. We watch as the landscape changed from the pine tree covered mountains of Flagstaff to the desert shrubs and flat plains near meteor crater.

The first adventure of the day was cooking breakfast burritos, manifold style. Byron placed the foil wrapped packs in the engine compartment and shut the hood. I was a bit nervous about our burritos becoming toast, while Byron was more concerned about them falling deep into the abyss and not being able to get them back out. Several miles down the road, breakfast was deemed heated and successfully served. It was just as we were nearing the home state of area 51, a place known for their UFO sighting. In a sudden fit of quirkiness, Byron turned his foil scraps into a finely sculpted helmet. It was desperately needed protection against any alien mind reading techniques. No worries there! I don’t think they would know what to do with all that information. He made quite a picture driving down the road and his hair now has that desirable shiny sheen thanks to the cheesy side of the foil.

The skies are much more interesting than back home, changing from the wispy clouds we see most of the time, to the bulging cotton ball kind peeking out from behind the plateaus in the distance. As we entered New Mexico, the terrain changed, revealing sandstone canyons and their geologic layers; meandering river beds temporarily dry; and fields dotted with grazing horses and indian trading posts. Later we passed by a volcano, who’s lava flow is still as black as the first day it flowed. The rough, craggy texture was softened by the desert grass growing up between it and looked as striking as blond hair on a black man’s scalp.

Byron is enjoying the driving and I am enjoying him driving as well. He can be unpredictable at times and he made someone’s day when he spontaneously waved to a dog laying in the passengers seat of a passing car. The dog, taken by surprise suddenly perked up and kept leaning forward into the window of the car trying keep in his sights that strange, friendly man in the white truck.

Just out from Albuquerque we ran into our first rain of the trip. As we passed miles of fields, the damp grass smell permeated the air vents. Further down the highway we were shown what it really means to experience “weather.” At first you could see the dark clouds and the dense dark mass of rain reaching down to the ground. Soon after, the sky and ground became one black void, so that the falling rain appeared white against it. At one point the rain hit the windshield so hard, we couldn’t hear each other yell. All the while, we were treated to a grand lightning show, sometimes seeing four bolts of lightening at once. We didn’t linger long and hustled to leave the dark behind as we drove rapidly towards the light.

We got off the freeway for a much needed break with high hopes finding the source of that DQ sign we saw, but instead we were treated to whole lot of eye candy when we ended up at a small personal car and hotrod museum owned by a guy named Bozo. The collection contained around forty old classic cars, many restored to their original state and others hot rodded out. I’ve added three or four to my Christmas list!

It was an overcast morning as we entered Kansas, the half way point to our final destination. Kansas was a nice change from the desert, with rolling green hills, spacious fields and lots of cows. The morning light was just starting to illuminate our surroundings and the first thing I saw as I raised my seat from it's slumber position was a dead critter in the road before Byron suddenly swerving aside, narrowly misses it. Pleasant vistas aside, I think that this state must be in the top 10 for the most critter road kill. It became a common sight as we motored along this back roads less traveled.

We had breakfast at a little diner called the “Golden Lantern” in the small town of Neodesha. It was a diner born out of the same era as Mayberry from the Andy Griffith show. It was a no fuss seat yourself place where all the locals gather to start the day. It had a ceiling fan of an experimental type I have never seen before and resembled a giant air cleaner from a car. Spinning rapidly, it wobbled on its post like a frisbee on a stick ready at any moment to fly off and clobber some unsuspecting customer. The food was good, but the gossip was better. Within a few minutes we learned more about six or seven members of the community than we had a right to. I hated to have to get up and leave for the rest room, but Byron promised to give me a full report upon my return. Unfortunately, pictures just wouldn’t capture the essence of the place. I encourage anyone interested to break free from their normal routine and experience a little old fashioned americana on their own. It’s still alive and well in the US of A.

We are currently motoring on through Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and now Pennsylvania at a faster pace, as we have a schedule to keep and a boat to deliver. Once that is completed we will have more time for sight seeing. I would like to say that I’ve taken lots of pictures from the cab of the truck, but I’ve been hard pressed to find a clear viewing place between all the bug splatters we accumulated. Byron reports that Indiana bugs are toughest "they seem to make a bigger whack", as he scours the dry and crusty remains acquired two states ago.

As the dot shows

Made it!
Got in here around 9pm last night. Since I was operating on only a few truckstop naps I needed to shower and sleep first. My original plans of taking what google maps offered and doubling the time estimate sounded good, but turns out to be a MINIMUM guess. I don't know where the time went but I have to figre it out later. This morning I unwrap the boat, clean, prep and go deliver it. That should be done by noon.

Paula has some trip notes that she will post shortly, but the internet here is a bit flaky and we will probably have to wait till the next stop.

We are thinking of heading more up through Vermont and maybe go up to Maine from here. Then back to Niagra falls and see how it goes from there. After that who knows... we have the option to cross into Canada and see what's over there. - ay! Or figure out how we go down the coast a bit before we head home.

Any comments?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Know the way?

So here it is. The next event.
I have yet another new line added in my job description. A promotion- sort of.

Short story->
It came about from a need to transport product to a new owner. It's exciting because it may possibly be a market area yet untapped. Being untapped, the problem is that we have no dealers in this area yet. This complicates the standard shipping procedures quite a bit. By chance I was walking by the circle of decision makers that were trying to figure it out and merely mentioned the words "Just hook the darn thing up to my truck and I'll run it out there". The more they thought about it, the more it made sense.

That's how I became the company representative for the New England and Eastern Seaboard. I leave Tuesday. That's going to be one hell of a commute. I think I need to buy a jet. There might be a lesson to be learned here somewhere.

So it's been a flurry of activities based around this.
I currently have boat attached, freshly detailed and it gets shrinkwrapped tomorrow morning.
The truck gets a wash today, and loaded with gear. Looking at the massive bags of stuff Paula has staged to go I'm glad I have a big truck.

Google seems to draw a pretty good path. I am humored by the turn by turn descriptions.
6.Take the exit onto I-15 N toward BARSTOW
86.2 mi
7.Slight right at I-40 E (signs for Needles/I-40)
Passing through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas
Entering Oklahoma
1,215 mi
8.Slight right at I-35 N/US-62 E (signs for US-62/Tulsa/Wichita/I-35/I-44)
Continue to follow I-35 N
10.0 mi

For those that wish to follow along I have a tracker installed and went active this morning. The link below will take you right there so you can check up on us.
Where today?

Also try this one:
Progress Map

Delivery is targeted for Saturday so the trip out will be quick and we will be touring our way back. Depending on time and wifi connections I will post traveling notes here and maybe FB.

Should be fun. Looking at national weather shows that it will not be boring. I keep telling Paula that if I see a bunch of SUV's with weather probes mounted on the top(stormchasers) I'm gonna follow where they are going. If they are going really fast hopefully it won't be in the other direction.