Tag Archives: travel

Good To Go

As fate would have it, my passport expires this year.  On one hand, who’s going anywhere right now?  On the other hand, who wants to get the fuck out of here right now?

What seems like forever ago, I applied for my passport renewal.  Forever in this case is 4 months ago, to the day.  That would be February, prior to the world hitting the pause button on life.  A month or so into the process, I checked up on the status.  It’s actually kind of nice that you can check the status of your passport application online.  I doubt that feature was around when I first ordered my passport.  As expected, the status was "In progress".

Another nice feature is that you can submit your email to be notified of changes in the status.  Again, things you would take for granted with modern businesses seem completely astonishing when applied to government agencies.  So I submitted an email and waited.  And I kept waiting.  I checked up in another month and the status had not changed, which is consistent with me not getting any emails about a status change.

One thing that was different about the status page when I revisited it was that they said they were on limited staff thanks to COVID and there would be a delay of "several months" in processing applications.  This is fine and not fine.  I’m not going anywhere, but things are getting weird, so what if I did need to go anywhere?  It’s never a good feeling to have an answer of "you can’t", even with your most remote imaginations.  You grow up surrounded with the promises that "you can do anything", until you have a moment where the answer is "no, you can’t" and that’s made even worse by "you could have, but not right now".  Anyway, enough of the dystopia for the moment…

Then about a week ago, I did get an email.  Wow!  It said my application was "in progress".  Oh.  In hindsight, this should have been a good sign, meaning my application has been taken off the pile and into someone’s hands, but I didn’t know this at the time.  I just thought it was more of the same.  I’d been waiting 4 months, what’s another 4?

Today I got another email.  My application status was "approved"!  Yes, finally!  The email stated that when I applied, I chose routine service, so the processing time would be 6-8 weeks.  What?!  But then it said I would get my book around 6/24/2020.  What?  This doesn’t make any sense, but whatever.  I’m getting my passport soon!

I got another email from USPS, with my soon-to-be-in-my-mailbox notifications.  It was already aware of my passport and said it would arrive Monday.  I click on the tracking link and no, it’s going to arrive today – exactly 4 months from the day I mailed the application.

The only regret I have while I was waiting for those months is that I didn’t choose to get both the passport card and book.  I only chose the book.  The reason I want both now is for having a backup.  Of course, being involved in computers, I’m always thinking of backups and redundancy.  The secure plan would be to take both the book and the card on vacation and only travel outside with the card.  Let’s say you’re at a cruise port and you get robbed.  Your wallet is taken with the passport card in it.  In this case, you wouldn’t be able to pass back through security to get to the ship, but you could send someone to get your passport book from your room and recover.

That small regret aside, I mentioned that things are getting weird around here.  It’s actually in the back of my head that depending on how things turn out later this year, my passport might actually be utilized.  It’s a remote chance. but I need the reassurance that if that time comes, "I can".

Wasteland, 2020

Another undesired journey to the wasteland of my home town.  Have to keep up appearances with family and whatnot.  Really, it was just for my mom’s birthday and she’s old enough that she didn’t even remember me saying I was going to come up back when we talked on Christmas.

I left on a Friday with my flight scheduled for 8:00.  I figured I could leave my house at 6 and get to the airport by 7 and have plenty of time.  That is until traffic happened.  Friday morning commuter traffic, which occurs earlier than I expected.  Add to that stress was the realization that I had forgotten who I rented my car from, so I had to remotely connect to my home computer from a 7-11 parking lot to ease my mind.  That lost me about 15 minutes.  Add to that the realization that 8:00 is the flight departure time and boarding begins at 7:30.  With some aggressive driving, a bit of luck, and the decision to park at the terminal instead of the satellite lot, I made it into the airport at 7:15.

Now, security.  I never have any good luck with security because I don’t fly enough to remember all the bullshit.  So once again, I got felt up because I left my wallet and a handkerchief in my pocket.  One part of me just thinks, "whatever", but when I really think about it, this is really fucking incredible that we’ve allowed this to become normal.

The flight was uneventful and I was in my rental in short order.  I was very pleased to see that I could see lots of green as we were coming in to the airport.  No snow cover… yet.  The weather was planned to get much worse over the next couple of days while I was there.  My rental had GPS, so I put in my destination and let it guide me.

It guided me wrong.  Well, the route would have worked, but it wasn’t the path I wanted and I was expecting to pass by an outlet mall where I could pick up a gift for my mom and have a good meal.  Also, it routed me on a toll road and I wasn’t up for paying cash at toll booths – so 20th century.  So I pulled off the interstate and set a new destination for the outlet mall I wanted to visit.

The route I was then sent on took me through small towns and back routes I’d never seen or heard of.  And while I drove through these communities, I felt a strange sense of something, not melancholy, but more like disappointment.  I’d lived in that area for so many years and yet I’d never explored any of these places.  Granted, there wasn’t really much to see in these tiny places, but they were interesting in their own way.  I eventually reconciled the feeling with the understanding that in my youth, I drove places to get somewhere.  There wasn’t time for exploring – that would have been time wasted.  So it kind of struck me odd that I’m at a point in my life where I have more free time and ambition to do more things.

After an excellent and much-needed lunch, I walked through the outlet plaza.  It’s in the mid 20’s outside.  I have my leather jacket on over a t-shirt, and I put on my 180’s for extra warmth.  They performed well.  I had decided that I wanted to buy some decent gloves while in the cold region, and the first place I stopped, Timberland, had them.  $10 on sale.  Yes, gimme.  Then I walked onward and found the Columbia store.  I thought they might have a nice throw blanket for my mom and while browsing, I saw more gloves, better gloves.  $9 on sale.  Yes, gimme.  And behind the counter they had a special on fleece throws.  Yes, gimme.  My shopping was done.

Kinda done.  I was lamenting that I left my sunglasses in my car back at the airport, so I figured I’d at least look in Sunglass Hut to see if there’s anything that would suit me.  I am very particular about sunglass styles, despite that I was once told that there isn’t a pair of glasses that doesn’t look good on me.  I walked out of the store with a new pair of Ray Ban polarized glasses because, why not?  despite having 2 pairs of gloves, the glasses are the only purchase I regret from my trip because I never used them again, because the sun never came back.

The next day, I woke up to a fair covering of snow on the car and the roads.  It took me only a few minutes to get my snow feet back and remember how to accelerate and brake on slick roads.  And with the snow mixing with sleet and rain, I made my rounds to the thrift shops of the area.  I also picked up some candy and a birthday cake and card.  By lunchtime, I had acquired 6 new CDs and was enjoying a couple of hot dogs and pretzels at a local convenience store.

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True to my designated moniker, I made mental notes of the changes in the wasteland.  K-Mart closed.  A couple of fast food places opened or remodeled.  Still no chain restaurants.  The Salvation Army thrift store closed.  How bad does a place have to be for that to happen?

The birthday visit was pleasant and so then all that was left was to get back home.  Again, my flight was at 8:00.  Travel time to the airport was about 90 mins, but the roads would probably be frozen overnight.  I gave myself extra time and set my alarm for 4:30, to be on the road by 5 and to the airport by 7.

The drive to the airport was sort of surreal.  There’s not a lot of traffic up in that area anyway, but at 5 in the morning, there’s no one.  And the roads are completely snow covered, so it’s a game of "whose lane is it, anyway?"  45 mph in a 70 was pretty standard for the early drive, but as I got further south, everything improved until I was finally driving on dry, clear pavement.

Again, security.  I was assured this time I wasn’t going to mess anything up.  I was adamant I was going to pass right through.  I only had one concern:  I had a couple of open boxes of candy in my bag.  Like I said, I don’t fly enough to know all the bullshit, so it was my understanding you can’t take any open food through security.  So in the back of my head, I half-expected to get pulled aside and told to throw it away.  $20 of candy, gone.

When I got to the airport, not late, but pushing it, I got to the security line, which was much longer than I experienced when I came up.  The line was about 15 minutes and I checked and rechecked my pockets and everything, multiple times.  I tried asking one of the agents if my bin looked ok but he didn’t care.  And for all that preparation, I passed!  No touchy-feely this time, and I got to keep my candy.  I felt like I cheated the system.  It really is fucked up that this is what is normal.

Uneventful flights back south and I was met with typical bullshit traffic on the drive home from the airport.  A greeting I should have expected.  I’m good for a few more years.

Road Trip In ATL

Over the weekend, I made a road trip up north to Atlanta to see some friends and explore some shops for CDs.  Before I left, I did some research on places I wanted to visit.  As is my default, I used Bing.  A lot of people dismiss Bing as useless, but it’s probably for the same reason that I dismiss Google – I just don’t use it.

Bing Maps has a neat feature where you can save places into an itinerary, and it will create driving directions automatically from the list.  This is what I came up with for Saturday’s run.

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The downside to using Bing Maps is that it’s not part of Android Auto, which is how I do the navigation in my car.  In the interest of being fair about the routing capabilities of Google vs. Bing, I took a look at Google maps to see if I could have done the same thing there.  What I found was that you can make a custom list of places, but you can’t automagically turn that into a multi-waypoint drive.  I suppose you could keep the list open and work your way through the items, choosing each in turn as the next destination.  So, it’s just a different way of accomplishing the same goal.  I’m not going to say "Google sucks, Bing rules" because that’s just stupid and we should all be more adult about this.

On one of the stops at CD Warehouse – a chain store that has been bankrupt for almost two decades; I have no idea how these ones are open – I found a CD to purchase.  It was a Japan pressing of an Eagles compilation.  I identified it as purchase-worthy because of the smooth case that had "Patent Pending" embossed on it.  These are some of the first CDs manufactured, when the jewel case was still a new invention.

I took the CD to the counter, paid and left the store.  After leaving, I snuck a peek at the CD and realized it was a common US pressing.  I was disappointed but unsurprised.  CDs can certainly migrate between cases, especially in a store that probably has a dozen of each title at any time.  I chalked it up as a buyer-beware failure on my part and moved on.  Later in the evening, I was looking at my whole day’s spoils and realized that the Eagles album was not in a smooth case.  I had been given a totally different CD instead of what I chose from the rack.

So I began debating if it was worth the effort to go back and demand the item I had chosen.  Would it still be there?  Would the staff just roll their eyes and say, "fuck off"?  Would I get the replacement and have it be no better than what I already had?  Was it worth the drive anyway?

I decided it would be worth the effort, and planned to go before driving back home on Monday.  My friends convinced me it would be better to try on Sunday because of workday traffic and were willing to sacrifice some of our day together to accomplish this.  So, with the store’s closing time quickly approaching, we set out for the store with the replacement.  We made it in the last 15 minutes.

I went to the rack and quickly found the same smooth case I had originally picked – they had simply put it back after I left.  I went to the counter and plead my case.  I had been rehearsing how to explain that I wanted this specific CD and not just any CD and had planned to try and be technical without being condescending.  At the most extreme, I would have to show them my Relative Waves website that explained the difference in CD masterings.  In reality, I was pretty awkward about the whole explanation, saying that I got a different CD, but it was the same, but it wasn’t the same.  Good job, Dave.  Way to explain it.

The guy at the counter said, no problem.  He went to the computer and scanned the old CD and my purchased CD, then retrieved the actual disc that was supposed to be in the case.  As he placed the CD in the case on the counter, he said, "there you go, Japanese pressing."  And at that point, I knew that he understood.  I didn’t need to say anything more than thank you.  And I left with my early pressing album.

Also on the list were some antique malls.  In my area, people seem to treat antique malls as consignment shops and as such, you can find people selling their personal CD collections (which technically could be antiques).  However, in this area, antique malls are filled with actual antiques.  Not of any benefit for CD hunting, but still a fun and interesting experience.  I did find some tiny décor items for the house, so it wasn’t all bad.

And finally, the thrift stores.  This is actually my second round of thrifting in Atlanta.  The first time was a long series of disappointments and this one was generally a shorter version of the first.  It just makes me more grateful that the thrifts in my area have some decent selection of CDs.  Maybe there are more collectors in Atlanta keeping the thrifts bare, who knows.

But the trip was not supposed to be about me and my hobbies anyway.  It was about the company and the experience.  In that respect, it was top-notch.  There’s plenty to be grateful for in spite of any success or lack of success in my hobbies.

Wasteland Highlights

Two trips to the hometown in one year!  Wow!  I mean, wow.  I actually mean, meh.  No really, blah.  So, to summarize the best/worst highs/lows of the trip, here we go.

Before I even left for the airport, six hours before my flight, my flight was delayed.  The flight was already a late one at 7:00pm, now it was 7:30.  When I got to the airport, they announced, “your plane will not be arriving until 8:00.”  A very odd way to announce a delay, but that’s what they did.

The TSA experience on the way out wasn’t too bad (oh, just you wait for this one…).  A couple new regulations (aren’t there always?) to deal with.  Everything electronic larger than a cell phone must be taken out and all liquids must be out as well.  Ok, no big deal, a couple of Kindles and shampoo.  I went on with my life.

nerdcat-t-shirt-tn-258x2581At my destination, I went to pick up my rental car at the ungodly hour of 11:30.  When I went up to the counter, the agent just stared at me with a big smile on his face.  I said, “Hi, I have a reservation” which seemed to break his trace and he said, “that… is awesome.”  And I understood.  It was my shirt – “Quattro Gato”.  Basically, this image here on the right, colorized and duplicated four times over. The agent asked me if I liked cats, had a cat, what type of cat, etc.  Naturally, cat people are awesome.  And awesome cat people get… Mustangs!  Or at least that’s what he believed.  Me paying for the cheapest rental car, and wearing a cat shirt, means I get upgraded to the sports car category.  I guess I’m ok with that.

wp_20171015_13_42_02_proI got my car in the lot.  There are SO many goddamn buttons on the console and steering wheel.  What the fuck.  I don’t touch anything.  I try to get GPS directions out of the airport to a familiar highway (I always take the wrong route), but my phone has no signal.  Finally, I get a weak signal and a route.  I leave the airport and immediately get in the wrong lane and miss the proper exit.  GPS simply changes the route, without even scolding me with “ROUTE RECALCULATION!”.  Not sure exactly how much time I lost in that, but I made it to the motel and fell into bed at 1:30am.

I thought I had everything planned out well for this trip, which meant little to no personal time for me.  In the end, I had way too much personal time because my brother kept bailing on our plans.  So I saw and did everything I could think of.  That’s a very short list in a very small town.  And I ended up sitting in my upgraded rental, parked downtown for extended periods of time.

Everything’s closed in the wasteland.  The mall lost Sears and JCPenney anchor stores, leaving only The Bon Ton.  I asked a couple people I visited, “where do you buy clothing?”  The only options were KMart, WalMart, and the Bon Ton.  One said Amazon, the other said the outlets (a 45 min drive).  How can you live like that?

After only two days, I was ready to get back home.  My outbound flight was at 3:30, a time where you either get to the airport super-early, or risk being late.  I chose the former, since there was nothing else to do.  I got to the airport, returned the car, and chilled in the airport lobby for an extended time, reading.

When I got up to get some lunch, I found out all the food was behind security, so I guess I’m going through security now.  I was ready.  I remembered the changed regulations, even though none of the agents were making announcements about it.  Ha!  I was ahead of the game.  I put my laptop and kindle and shampoo in a tray and confirmed with the agent that was right.  He said the laptop had to go in a tray by itself.  Fine.  Anything else?  Shoes.  Oh crap.  How did I forget that?  Shoes on the conveyor.  Then over to the scanner.

I got chided last time about doing a body-building pose when they told me to lift my arms, so I kept it simple.  I got out and the guard stepped in front of me.  “Anything in your pockets?”  I patted my pockets.  Oh fuck.  My phone.  I usually put my watch and phone in my carryon while I’m in line.  I forgot.  I pulled out my phone and handed it to him.

“Anything else?”  I patted again.  I had my handkerchief, which I didn’t think was any big deal, my passport, which I sometimes have in my hand when I get scanned, and oh crap, coin change.  I pull the change out sheepishly and hand it to him.  “Anything else?”  Ok, I’m stressing now.  My passport?  He takes that too.  “Anything else.”  Uh, a handkerchief?  He has everything now.  He calls for a bowl from the other agents and sends everything off to get scanned.

“So, you want me to go through again?” I ask.  The agent replies in a very annoyed tone, “No.  Since you had so many things in your pockets, you’re going to have to be patted down.”  Ohhhh FUCK.  The agent then goes into a very long and detailed description of all the different ways he’s going to feel me up.  I’m somewhat in shock, so I don’t hear much of it.  He asks if I want a private room or just do it here.  I said here is fine, as if I give any sort of a shit right now.

I have to take off my belt (which should have come off earlier, I guess), and hold it.  Not much to say.  I got groped plenty around my balls and swiped and rubbed.  That might be bad, but hey, they gotta do their job.  But here’s the stupid thing.  They wiped my hands with some sort of device that probably was checking for explosive residue or similar.  Now, if I was a “t-word”, would I have been so stupid to leave my pockets full going through the scanner?  Bad guys are smarter than that.  I’m just an idiot, and you’re checking me for residue?

I pass with flying colors, gather my shit and get the fuck out of there.  The experience ruined my day completely.  I tried to eat lunch but ate very little.  I wasn’t upset or scarred or anything.  Just mad at myself that I was so focused on the details I totally forgot the basics.

The flight back was much less fun than the flight up.  Much more turbulence and many more passengers.  Two very large women in my row.  Idiot children in front of me, and a baby across the aisle.

But I did make it home safe and my cat was thrilled to see me.  That’s enough travel for a while, I think.

Driver Formula

I think I’ve come up with a formula to determine the assholosity of any driver on a highway.  The formula is simply:

x*abs(y-z)

Where x is the number of lane changes per mile, y is the average speed of the driver, and z is the average speed of the rest of traffic.  Spoken, the formula is: the number of lane changes per mile multiplied by the deviation in speed from the flow of traffic equals the level of asshole on the road.

This formula is a great step forward in the field of Asshology, of which I consider myself an expert.

I Never Really Believed in Curses Until…

…I started travelling.  There’s some pretty bad mojo brewing up whenever I want to go back to my home state.  Last time, I was delayed a day and it was because I took the last flight out and because of previous delays, it was impossible to make my connection.  This time I scheduled the first flight out, meaning I got up at 2:45 in the morning to get ready.  Despite the plan that I could be bumped to later flights and do to people what they did to me the first time, the flight was still a no-go.  Thank you, blizzard.

And I thought I did everything I was supposed to.  I checked the flight status before I went to bed and when I woke up – all good.  When I checked in, I asked “any news?” – no, the flight is still active.  I got to the gate and within 10 minutes I hear my name paged.  Damn it, I know what this is about.

Similar to last time, I could make my first leg, but the second leg was cancelled.  I had the option of going to the first airport and trying to get on the next flight at 5:30.  That’s a 10-hour layover with a great chance of the flight either being overbooked or cancelled.  No thanks.  So after rescheduling for tomorrow,  back home I went.

I call the car rental company and modify my reservation.  Apparently, when you take one day off your reservation, you’re not in the “special rate” anymore and it suddenly costs you over $100 more.  So a brief check on Yahoo and I’m now renting from another company.  However, I’m still out $5 for my brief time of parking at the airport.  And gas, and time.  Luckily, no hotel reservations to change like last time, where they knocked me for $90.  I swear, companies make the most money when their customers are miserable.

Trip Log 11/22/09

Today was a beach trip.  To a different beach, on a different route.  That meant (oh boy) Interstate travel: 60 minutes at 70+ mph in chaotic conditions with a good wind.  I could see that there were storms to the north and south, but I seemed pretty safe in my path.

An uneventful trip to the beach and a fairly empty parking lot.  I had just gotten off the bike and gotten to the walkway when the parking authority vehicle pulled in.  I walk back to his truck and asked if he could break a $20 for the meters.  He told me not to worry and kept right on going.  Slow day, I guess.

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So I got my pictures and took a leisurely ride up and down the local roads.  Not much traffic and what was there was casual.  Stopped at a local place to have a lunch.  The sandwich was not as I would have expected.  What is the deal with sticking a huge pile of meat between slices of bread?  You can’t get your mouth around it and all you taste is meat.  There’s a balance when making a sandwich: the meat-to-bread ratio (or meat-to-bun as I originally termed it for fast food).  You don’t want the flavor of the meat to be lost in the bread, nor do you want excess in the other direction.  Some places just don’t get it.

I did bring along the Zune HD, but I didn’t get to do any Internet surfing.  All the available networks were secured, insulting, or both.

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So, I guess I won’t be going back there.  I should have had the burger.

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Trip Log 7/23/09

This actually isn’t a motorcycle trip.  It was a business trip.  As such, a lot of the details are hush-hush, but the trip itself – travelling – is something I don’t do as much of as I used to.

To start the whole trip on a great note, I don’t even make it to the airport garage without incident.  There are new traffic patterns I was unfamiliar with and when one sign says “Economy parking/post office next left” and a later temporary construction sign simply says “Post office”, I did not make the turn for economy parking.  So one loop around the terminal so I can be logged into NSA’s database as suspicious, then back to economy parking from the other direction, which had no construction.

Step 1 complete; I’m parked.  The shuttle bus is waiting and I hop on.  The bus will stop at the Blue side first, then the Red side.  Fine, I’m red.  We arrive at the red side and I get off the bus.  I’m the last one off because I’m not really in a hurry.  The lone luggage bag left in front of the bus is not my bag.  Suddenly, I feel I bit more in a hurry.  I grab the bag and walk back onto the bus to explain what has happened.  The driver was kind enough to drive back to the other side to see if there were some people freaking out that they had the wrong bag.  There were no people like that there.  I gave the driver my cell number and he said he would take the bag and my number to Lost and Found.  Meanwhile, I had to get my boarding pass, with or without luggage.

The trip I was taking for business was at a resort literally in the middle of nowhere.  1.5 hour drive from any metro area.  I was wondering if I could wear the same jeans for three days and maybe buy some souvenir shirts to wear the other days.  I guess I could have shopped at the airport, too, but that thought wasn’t coming to me then.  I walked down to baggage claim looking for Lost and Found.  I found instead a security guard, who told me I needed to be back upstairs and across the road.  Then he did something extra: he said he’d walk me there.  That’s pretty important to my trip because the purpose of the business meeting was to extol the virtues of service, which the security guard had just demonstrated.

So we got to L&F and I fill out the contact form.  The lady at the counter, again – pleasant, said that they already received the other person’s bag from the shuttle driver, they had contacted the owner, and that they would handle the exchange.  Simple enough, as long as these people – who didn’t recognize their bag had a handle wrap on it and mine didn’t – show up before I have to run to my gate.  As it turned out, it was only about 15 minutes that I had to wait and the crisis was averted.

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, but the business portion was very good.  The accommodations were impressive.

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Being a remote resort area, it had a lot of walking paths and lots of greenery.  It would be a botanist’s dream.

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The only critique I could make, and I regret thinking of it now because I should have filled out a comment card, is that the whole place needed more garbage cans.  You walk around a lot and typically you’re drinking something, but then you have to carry your trash around looking for a place to throw it away.  I remember only one public garbage can.

So early in the morning we all headed back to the airport.  I made the wise decision to walk from the entrance to the terminal instead of talking the tram.  It didn’t seem too bad, the map even said 1000 ft to next terminal.  Something wasn’t quite right though, because it seemed like I walked through an extra terminal or two.  All told (thanks to Bing’s unit conversion), it was well over a mile I walked.  Before breakfast.  I’m a bastard when I’m tired or hungry, so I had both going on when I got to the gate.  Unsurprisingly, a kiosk was very willing to take 8 dollars from me in exchange for a bag of chips, a bottle of Coke, and a bag of candy.

Boarding time.  Looks like we’re early.  And the staff was giving out coupons for free Internet on the plane.  I didn’t feel like Internetting, so I passed.  All settled in and ready to go.  And we’re not going.  Still not.  Half an hour later, I’ve worked through 75% of my bag of candy and getting restless.  More waiting.  Finally, the answer comes out.  They were trying to fix the computers for the Internet, they couldn’t, and so we’re an hour late and the coupons can’t be used on that flight (save them for another flight).

We’re back now.  I got the same shuttle driver and I’m the only one on the shuttle.  Will I lose my bag again?  We chatted about the luggage experience and service and other minor topics.  I tipped him at the garage.  It’s really something I don’t normally do, and really not sure he deserved it, but I intended it to be a nice gesture that showed I was satisfied with the service of everyone at the airport: him, the Lost and Found department, and the security guard that escorted me.

Thank god. I can head home and eat.  Oh wait, there’s new traffic patterns at the airport.  This new road is nice.  There’s my exit up ahead…. but this road doesn’t connect to that exit.  Now I’m going off the opposite direction.  Damn it.  Another 20 minutes of time lost.  Finally, the drama ends and I’m in familiar territory and here I am recounting it to the best person in the world.

Trip Log 7/5/2009

Today I decided to do a follow-up trip to the beach.  I had discovered another park with beach access that came highly recommended, so I headed out to that one.  This time, I was a little more prepared: I took my GPS and an atlas.

Let’s set something straight first.  This trip, I did not get rained on.  That’s an accomplishment in itself.  But the whole trip wasn’t a success.  I started out like I usually do, getting a bottle of water at the store on the way.  I should plan better for refreshments.  Then I made the run with only a brief stop for gas.  I found a place to eat right near my turn for the beach.

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After a much-needed meal, I headed back the road to the park.  It was a very residential area, which seemed odd that a public beach would require travel through such an area.  But while slowly weaving through the roads, I saw signs directing to the beach.  Odd.  Once I got in the actual park, it seemed pretty empty.  I wasn’t sure if that was due to my late-day timing, or because the park wasn’t well-known.  A couple minutes through the park I got my answer.

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The roadway to the beach, which is really just a big sandbar, is being renovated.  So I parked the bike and went walking to see how much I could see.  The answer: not much.

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There was a nice picnic area and some benches for looking out at the water.  The beach itself was hidden by trees that must line the road heading to it.

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So, this trip is rescheduled for the fall.  It seems like a nice place, and if it’s anywhere as uncrowded as it was today, it seems like a very nice place to visit.  Unfortunately, it is a couple of hours away.  I can’t remember the travel time for the usual beach, but maybe it’s comparable.

Trip Log 6/7/09

Today I thought it would be good to see how far away a beach run would be on the bike.  I mapped out a rough route and took off.  This time I was prepared with GPS in pocket.

The ride out was pleasant and rather uneventful.  The crampbuster did an excellent job maintaining my speed on the long stretches.  I didn’t designate any waypoints, so I stopped whenever I felt I needed to get my bearings or take a break.  Stops included, it took about an hour and a half to get to the coast.  Still didn’t see any public beach access though, So I stopped for lunch.

On the way out, I asked where the beach access was, and was directed to a road not far from where I was.  A short drive over and I came to the “beach”.

That’s actually a pretty flattering shot.  That’s about all there is of the beach.  So, with my curiosity satisfied, I headed back.  I figured with less stops, I should get a more accurate time.  Not surprisingly, things went to crap.

That’s actually a pretty flattering shot too.  You can’t tell how dark it really was ahead.  Sure enough, in the last 15 minutes of the ride, down it came.  Fortunately, I think I missed the worst.  I can tell this by arriving in the aftermath.  Lots of debris in the road and a couple flooded road sections I had to avoid.

Now back home and warming up.  The storm should finish passing sometime soon, then I can get out again.