Friday, October 9, 2015

Hello, America! The 2015 Cross-Country Road Trip

A wise man once told me that the main difference between an ordeal and an adventure is your attitude.

When the Lady Shawnon told me she would be doing her clinical year at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Cornell University, I was really proud of her.  When she said she'd need help moving all of her stuff there, that's when I got even more excited.

As it turns out, for me, this is what an adventure looks like:
Road Trip Map

That's the route we took to get her, her car, and most of her stuff installed in upstate New York.

If you'd like to see photos from the trip and all of the fun along the way, read on...

Since she's been away on a tiny island for most of the past two and a half years, every visit home includes a trek to visit her family in Southern California.  This time we ended up staying with her aunt and what turned out to be a large number of small guests:
Pomeranians EVERYWHERE
They said whatever you do, don't get them wet...

You're also not supposed to feed them after midnight:
Babby Pom

It turns out that one of her other relatives breeds Pomeranians and happened to be visiting at the same time.  So I got to get all kinds of puppy time:
Baby Poms

It seemed like every time you turned a corner there'd be some other little dog peering out at you from under, behind, or inside something:
Solitary Confinement Pom

They were everywhere:
Staring Contest Pom

The next day we continued the trek further into Southern California and visited Disneyland:
Welcome to Disneyland

This was probably the least crowded I've ever seen this place.  We entered the park on board the monorail.  That's where I spotted this sign:
Monorail Ride 2

Since there were no children to supervise, I did my best to observe the other instructions that were posted:
Monorail Ride

Bright and early the next afternoon, we set out on the open road and left all of civilization behind us:
2015 road trip 003

2015 road trip 001

We even started to leave vowels behind:
2015 road trip 002

Crossing into the desert, the moon came up pretty early in the afternoon:
2015 road trip 004

And right around sunset we passed the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, the world's largest solar thermal power plant:
2015 road trip 005

Shortly after that, we left California and entered the wilds of Nevada:
2015 road trip 006

It was terrifying:

Somewhere in the middle of what passes for night in this wretched hive of scum and villainy, we drove through Las Vegas:
Las Vegas Drive By

Shortly after that we nicked the top corner of Arizona before crossing over into Utah.  A little ways into the state, we decided it was time to find a place to sleep and ended up in a motel in the charming hamlet of Beaver, Utah.

I saw no beavers there.

The next morning we set out bright and early and got to see some amazing scenery:


Wide Open Spaces

Especially notable was this giant boob-shaped mountain:
Big Boob Mountain
Because I'm a child.




One of the things that really amazed me was the significant shortage of road kill.  There were very few dead critters on the road.  I was almost ready to believe that there had been some sort of mass extinction or migration, but we still spotted this guy at a rest stop:
Shawnon wouldn't let me keep it.

Shortly after that stop, she started experimenting with the creative filters built into the camera:
2015 road trip 007

2015 road trip 008

Clearly boredom had set in:
2015 road trip 009

That's about the same time we crossed into Colorado.  It was also terrifying:

Actually, it looked quite a bit like Utah at first:
2015 road trip 010

2015 road trip 011

As we gained elevation, the clouds began to thicken.  Shawnon dozed off in the passenger seat and I zoned out let my thoughts wander.  Sometime later she woke up and the conversation got a bit silly:

HER:  What's wrong with that truck?
ME: What truck?
HER: The one with all of the smoke or whatever that is coming out from the back of it?
ME: That one?
2015 road trip 012

It turns out that we've been so drought-ridden for so long in Northern California that my sleepy girlfriend didn't recognize the effects of a rain-soaked road anymore.

I tried to resist the urge to make fun of her.

Still, the scenery was fascinating:
2015 road trip 013

That night we stayed over with our friends Liz and Scott.  They're both pretty talented costumers and tend to be a fixture at all of the conventions across the country.  So after a great dinner out, we spent much of the rest of the night hanging out with Scott in the garage and playing with all of their toys:
Judge Thorsson

This is what Shawnon looks like when she's judging me:
Judge Shawnon

Liz ended up missing breakfast with us the next day, but here's Shawnon and I with Scott right before we hit the road:
Breakfast with the Gilmore

Eastbound once more, I was treated to this great bit of literacy:

In fact, I kept finding samples of these kind of shenanigans all over the place:
More Literacy

Not long after that, we were entering Nebraska.  Terrified:

I didn't take any photos of Nebraska.  I spent all of my time in the passenger seat with my camera at the ready, waiting for something interesting to pass within view so I could snap photos.

What I saw was corn.

Somewhere in the middle of the state it was my turn to drive.  We stopped at a gas station surrounded by corn and switched places.

A little while after that I was stopped by a state trooper who had been hiding behind some corn.  She issued me a speeding ticket.

After a brief reminder to slow down, I headed off past more corn.

Just when we thought we'd seen all the corn we could ever see, we crossed over into Iowa.  Where there was more corn:

Here's some random road signs:
More Iowa

We spent the night in Iowa at the home of Aeric the Canadian, Shawnon's old roommate from Ross.  He ended up taking us on a tour of the University of Iowa campus:
2015 road trip 015

It's very pretty:
2015 road trip 016

The next morning we were in no real rush to get back to driving.  Instead, we spent much of the day playing board games with Aeric and his dog Odin:
Odin the Dog

That night we ventured into Illinois.  Both of them:
Somewhere in the Midwest

Somewhere in the great pile of concrete spaghetti that counts as Interstate highways after Chicago, I ended up missing a turn and took us on a brief late-night detour into Michigan.  I'm sure it was very nice, but it was pretty much just dark while we were there.

I persevered, found our way back to our track, and drove on through the night (and Indiana) until we finally stopped in Holiday City, Ohio.

There was next to nothing to see in Ohio.
Somewhere, USA

Sometime that morning, the long hours on the road started making Shawnong grumpy, so I stopped and got her a latte and a pony:
Fixing Angry Girlfriend

Then we drove into Pennsylvania:

There's a lot of corn in Pennsylvania too, but it was somehow more interesting:
Tractor for Sale

That night we caught up with my friend Sean and his wife Jen.  Sean is another talented maker and we ended up trading stories and ideas until the wee hours of the morning.  Here's the four of us in his studio:
Visiting Sean Bradley's Shop

While we gabbed, Shawnon got a chance to try everything on:
Jin Roh, Wolf Lady

I think the ODST magnum looked pretty good on her:
Shawnon Trying on an ODST Pistol

The next morning we headed north through more corn:
2015 road trip 020

Early that afternoon we'd arrived safely in Ithaca, New York:
Arrival in Ithaca

It was a reasonably uneventful road trip and I'm looking forward to doing something similar (only backwards) sometime next year when she's all done at Cornell.  I'm still not quite sure which route we'll take, but rest assured that there's more to come.  

Stay tuned...


  1. The corn isn't all that bad.... ;)

  2. Reminds me of a road trip in college. Me, "I'm going to take a nap while we are going through Montana so I'm ready to take my shift driving, OK?" Friend, "Sure." 6 hours later. Me, "That was a good nap, where are we?" Friend with a crazed look in his eye and a louder voice than intended, "We're halfway through Montana!"