Eastern side of Pensacola

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I dawned on me that I’d driven across the country and managed to avoid stopping in a bunch of states.

I blew through New Mexico, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Damn! I knew there were “Fly-Over” states but who’d have thought there were “Drive-Over” States?

Another good nights sleep.

Last leg of the trip, will be at Moms by late afternoon.

Praise Jeebus Houston is in my rear view mirror

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I have never in my life been through such a screwed up city. I thought LA freeways were screwed up.

Houston takes the prize!

Part of the freeway instruction is painted on the roadway. OK I can deal with that. So you start following the indicators on the freeway, picture this you’re in a new town with crazy traffic and you’re being led through the absolute middle of the city. Then the markings stop and there’s no signage that says anything convenient or useful like I-10 This way!

Needless to say, I ended up lost. The navigation system was confused and having a hard time locking on satellites due to the overpasses. After a while I just turned the nav off then looked at the city map and chose a direction. I figured if I could just get the hell out of the madness of the city I could correct and get back to the I-10. That technique worked but I ended up in Pasadena and had to pay a 2.00 toll to get back to the 10, on the eastern side of the city

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I was taking the I-10 you know, the freeway that connects the West Coast to the East Coast? A main thoroughfare…

Those people really need to make some signage that directs travelers around their insanity it would probably help their traffic woes just by keeping travelers out of the city.

But wait, there was an accident too, that plus the Texans propensity to never, ever, break the speed limit, even to avoid an accident or let someone change lanes meant that I lost 2.5 hours to the craziness.

While a Texan won’t break the speed limit, they’ll roll through a stop sign or a red light without any thought. They’ll cut 18 wheelers off with less than 1/2 a car length and expect the 18 wheeler to be able to stop.

By the time I got to Beaumont I’d finally calmed down.

Had another unique experience in Louisiana. There was an accident or something and I was stuck on a bridge over a swamp for about an hour. I watched the wildlife in the cypresses and actually didn’t mind the delay too much.

 

Day 2 of the Cross Country odyssey

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I blasted through New Mexico without stopping. Then I entered Texas. GOD what a long drive.

Nothing much to report. I stopped at a neat rest station and took a couple of photos.

One bright spot was that the Speed Limit was 80, which meant most people were doing 90 or 100. I finally packed it in in San Antonio. Got my first good nights sleep in four days.

Now on to Houston.

Cross Country trip day 1

Got a late start, really late!

Made it to Tucson, AZ.

Haven’t really slept well for the past two nights, so I thought this was a good stopping point.

A short time after I crossed the AZ border things looked a lot greener. Guess it was the Colorado river helping to green things up a bit. Some of the desert wildflowers were blooming alongside the roadway and at sunset it was really pretty.

Mind you, I didn’t think to take a picture, Ooops!

I’m here in a nice hotel, well nice may be an overstatement. Clean would be a better descriptor. A “nice” hotel would be The Four Seasons.

Hey, a guy has to have standards!

My car loves long runs like this. I’m getting around 30 mpg plus or minus. The car hasn’t liked the tank of gas I got in Blythe. I’d have been better off buying in Redlands. I’d have easily made it to Phoenix and the prices are better.

The first part of the trip I was getting 30 mpg, After the fill up in Blythe it’s down to 28.

I’ll fill up tomorrow morning and see what happens. I’m guessing I’ll get between 26 (rated) and 29. Not bad for a “Gas Guzzler”

I’m a hell of a lot more efficient than the motorhomes and toy haulers.

Why am I taking this trip? Family issues.

I had to leave my dive gear behind because the weather is such a mess.

I’m kinda bummed about that. I was hoping to play with the manatees in Crystal River and maybe get in some diving off of Anna Maria Island. It was a favorite swimming / snorkeling spot as a kid and I always wished I could stay under water longer.

I just couldn’t fit everything for an extended stay, cold weather gear either for my stay in FL or when I return to CA, and my diving stuff.

Note to self, Need to find a smaller more compact dive bag.

The bag I have would have worked if it were two inches shorter.  The way it had to fit in the trunk dictated where so much else went that, in the end I couldn’t make it work.

Maybe another trip when the weather isn’t running quite the gamut it is now.

88˚ F through California and Arizona. 1/2 of Texas will be in the 80s and 90s, then I can look forward to frost advisories and potential ice in Georgia and Florida?

Say WHAT?

So I packed the essentials,

Foul weather rain gear,  Down Jacket, snow boots, Ice AX, sled, sled dogs, shorts & flip flops. No, not really, But that’s what it seemed like.

Humm. I think I’ve watched “The Day After Tomorrow” once too often.

Time to sleep

I snapped a couple of photos at 80 MPH. Hey if folks can text while driving I can snap a couple of photos. But they haven’t showed up on my computer yet. I’ll add them when they’re accessible.

Believe me there were a lot of folks texting and driving today.


By the way, and this is really cool.

I’m using my iPhone hotspot with a T-Mobile LTE connection to create and post this entry. You know what’s scary? This LTE connection is darn near as fast as my DSL modem at home.

OK I’m impressed!

Time to hit the road

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Had a nice breakfast, drove around Las Vegas a bit just to get away from the strip.

My brother and I were curious about the differences between the “Tourist” area and the places where the real people lived.

All too soon it was time for me to drop my brother off at the airport, then head home myself.

I’m tired and looking forward to getting home. But I’m also looking forward to the silence of the drive across the desert.

Just the car, the road, & me.

Kind of a nice way to decompress after all the noise, lights, and hubbub of Sin City.

I should be home by 4pm. At least that’s what the navigation lady says.

I’ll rest today when I get home and catch up on chores tomorrow.

Hope everyone is having a nice weekend.

Oh and NO I’m not blogging while driving. I’m blogging from a gas station and the photo is one I snapped on the open road.

I wonder if I could blog while driving using dictation and a headset? Perhaps experimentation is in order.

Humm…

I do like some things about this town!

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I apologize in advance for the quality of the photos. I wasn’t planning on doing a photo essay. So I left the Nikon in the hotel room.

Too late I realized there were some interesting photo ops.

SO I figured it was time to learn how to better use the camera in my iPhone.


Las Vegas is a place where you buy a Stetson, and they serve you Jack Daniels.

This is of course probably necessary, have you seen the price of a Stetson 20X lately?

Not that I’m complaining, Stetsons hold up for ever with minimal care and I wear mine a lot in the snow & rain of winter and early spring.

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Las Vegas is a place where if I lived here, I’d walk or ride my bike more than I drove.

Traffic is nuts, but walking isn’t too bad in and around the center of town. That being said, once you get out of the unreality of the strip Las Vegas is a pretty normal slice of suburbia.

The thing is, like most of suburbia it’s spread out and homes are usually at a distance from business areas. So it’s still possible just as in California that covering the distance from “home” to work would be impractical walking or riding a bike. Is it any wonder we’re becoming a nation of fat asses, myself included?

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The tramway is cool but it should really go a lot further. I think it would be great if they made it connect all of the “Strip” even if you had to walk through casinos to access the next station. I think they’d have to do that because of the shapes of the hotels and the layout of the strip itself.

Right now it just goes from The Monte Carlo to The Bellagio. You can access Caesars via a bridge and then walk on to The Flamingo. I didn’t explore much further than that.

I will say this, it’s very disconcerting to get off at “Crystals” (A mall) after having had a drink or two. God help you if you also had recently taken Viagra because you’d be absolutely sure you were going blind. Or perhaps having a flashback to your drug hazed hippy phase.

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FYI, It’s not you… the lighting changes to blue, pink, and a couple of other colors. But at night when you exit the tram into that intense color it can really mess with you.

The weird thing about the casinos is that after a short time they all look alike.  They’re on the darker side and they’re a labyrinth of tables and machines & lights. Even the faces of the people begin to blur together after a while.

Instead of perceiving the “grandmother in the corner happily playing the two cent slots” she becomes “generic old woman type #5 playing slots” it’s weird.

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Where the Casinos excel is in their shopping  and hotel areas.

I really like Caesars Palace! Yes, it’s all a big set piece but I like the marble and columns. I like the statuary and I appreciated the illusion of an open sky in their mall.

You have to understand these are all pretty high end shopping centers and I’m betting that they make money hand over fist.

The traffic through these places is very high and I noticed that in almost every one of the mall areas, there were Tiffany’s, Coach, Vuitton, and half a dozen other high end vendors.

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I even sampled the latest in Tom Ford scents. Although the sales lady spritzed me with some really nasty floral smell.  I washed it off in the mens room, rather, I tried.

The thing about really good colognes, & perfumes is that they’re made with more oils and far less alcohol. This means; first, that you need very little. Second that it soaks into your skin almost immediately, and stays with you for a long time.

The sales lady did me a favor. I like tobacco & wood scents, they work for me.  Gardenia is just right out of the picture. Gardenia is exactly what one of the major components of the cologne she spritzed me with was. Just as well, had I stayed I’d have probably purchased one of the new Ford scents, they’re pricy! a single bottle lasts a long time but it will put a dent in your budget.

IMG_0254I did enjoy the art and architecture of the shopping centers.  I liked Crystals the best, they’ve got a nice open air plan and some really cool or dramatic architectural elements.

Yeah, I’m not a gambler. Could you tell?

I’ve gambled, I’ve put quarters in slot machines, I’ve even won!

The odds are so not in your favor. While I enjoyed the heck out of spending a few quarters, winning, then spending the next few hours losing my huge $40.00 winnings, I can’t see it as a regular thing.

I like walking through the hotels, and shops, and treating Las Vegas like a Disneyland-esq place for adults.

I like being able to drink anything, almost anywhere on the strip. I like the general feeling of immorality of the city. I like that you can offend someone, (as my brother did by carrying a beer in a plastic cup into the elevator going up to the room.) and that they can’t really do or say anything about it.

I guess the bottom line is that I enjoyed the trip. I needed the time with my brother. I needed the time away.

As always when I come back from trips like this I ask myself why I don’t take more short trips more often.

I’m not sure that I have an answer. I guess it has to do with the other half not having weekends off and while I was working, not being able to take time off during the week.

I suppose that over time, that scheduling conflict has created a habit and the habit became a “normal” way of life.

I’m thinking it’s time for me to break that habit and do more. I need to find a traveling buddy, and spend more time doing fun stuff.

Time is the one thing we can never get more of.

Don’t waste yours.