Tag Archives: driving

Prepare for liftoff.

With the gas debacle over, it was time to find a place to sleep. The only way to camp at Carlsbad is to skip the bat show letdown, so we made a great choice there. At the Visitor’s Center we were told that all around the entrance to the park is what’s called “public land”. It’s exactly what it sounds like – land that anyone can use for anything. So we found a dirt road and started up it.

We crept up a hill until we found an opening to camp. We could clearly tell it had been used recently because of the various beer cans laying around and the abandoned fire pit. Just like the night before, we set up camp using my car headlights and cooked a mediocre meal over the flimsiest gas stove ever made, anywhere.

The night sky was amazing. There were no lights for miles and the clouds had disappeared. We laid on the hood of my car (which now has a huge butt shaped dent in it) and stared at them for a while. I imagine it’s what the Badlands would have looked like if the clouds wouldn’t have been there.

Bedtime turned us into 3 year old little girls who wandered away from her Mom and just now realized she’s alone in Target. It was pretty scary being solo in that wide open space with nothing around but the wind and mysterious wildlife. And by mysterious wildlife, I assume there were flesh eating mutants roaming the land searching for 22 year old guys camping alone driving a 2002 white Honda Accord. These mutants have very particular tastes. Good tastes, obviously, but particular.

After a sleepless night waiting for the foodie mutants to arrive, it was time to head to Austin. We entered Texas to see this glorious sign:
True

Never in my life had I seen a speed limit so high. It was like God reached out and touched my soul. Pedal to the metal – we were getting to Austin ASAP. (I recently heard that they raised it to 85. At that point, is there even a need for a speed limit? Strap some wings onto your car and prepare for lift off.)

Unfortunately, the drive peaked there. Texas is terribly flat and boring. At least in Arizona we had cacti and mountains to look at. Texas has sporadic brown grass. I’m not sure why everyone that’s from there has so much pride it in. Sure, it’s big, but so is Montana and you don’t see them waving their flags in your face.

Of course about 7 people live in Montana.

Hours and hours later, we finally saw signs for Austin.

AustinThat’s a view of the city from an overpass. There are a ton of overpasses in Texas, and they’re really big.

We used AirBnB (if you don’t know, now you know) to find a place to stay. For those unfamiliar with the service, you essentially rent a room from someone’s house. They let you stay there for however many nights you want, and you pay them. It’s way cheaper than a hotel, and way more authentic.

Luckily, the guy we were renting from was in Mexico for the night, so we got to use his bedroom instead of the couches. Unfortunately, his roommates were not in Mexico for the night. They were nice enough – casual, helpful with places to go, etc. – but then, as Betz and I were having a drink before we went downtown for the night, Tim showed up.

Tim walked in wearing an ensemble that he most likely stole from a fry cook who just got off of work, part of which he then exchanged for the contents of a homeless man’s trash bag. His long curly hair looked like it hadn’t been washed in ages, and most of the things he was saying sounded like some sort of euphemism neither of us understood. When he realized we were there, he sat down beside Betz, stared forward, and introduced himself. Then, without missing a beat, he offered us drugs.

Betz and I took our drinks to the bedroom.

 

The Lampshade Capital of the World

As I finished up the last of my heart-wrenching goodbyes, I packed the last few things into my car for the long drive ahead. College was officially over, and I was moving to LA for the summer. The sun was breaking through the clouds in a very un-Pittsburgh-like fashion as my best friend and I climbed into my two door Honda Accord to start the long trip to sunny California. It was going to last 7 days and 6 nights with stops all across the country.

To understand the trip, you have to understand that my friend and I have a relationship that can only be described as “pushing the limits of the bromance”. Basically we’re two ball taps away from my mom “loving me no matter who I am”. It’s love in the straightest way possible.

So my definitely not boyfriend and I hit the road heading west. Our first stop was 8 hours away – Chi-Town. However we hit an obstacle before Chicago: Ohio and Indiana.

On a whim because I’m creative and spontaneous (aside from my numerous other positive qualities) I decided I was going to take a picture of the “Welcome to” sign at the border of every state we entered. Things started off great in Ohio:

This was followed by our first sight in this great state – a tractor trailer with not two but three trailers attached. This blew my mind because I’ve never seen this in PA, most likely because we have landforms. Needless to say Ohio was opening my eyes to the wonders of the free world.

When we got hungry, luckily, were about to hit Toledo. We’d heard of Toledo before, so we decided to find the nearest Chipotle (obviously). As we got off the highway, I realized Toledo was not the sprawling metropolis I had envisioned. Aside from Chipotle, I think the newest thing was an Old Country Buffet from 1987.

However it did have the following: a restaurant called “Good Food”, a hotel called “Best Hotel”, and most importantly an enormous store called “Lampshade World”. This proves that Ohioans are not only creative, but are on the forefront of technologic and economic prosperity. When I think “What is one product that is so versatile and profitable I could fill up a warehouse with it and call it a store?” I think lampshades.

We dined with Toledo’s finest, and after about 15 minutes of lampshade jokes, we got the fuck out of there, dubbing it “The Lampshade Capital of the World”. We crossed into Indiana, where my “Welcome to” sign picture taking ability greatly improved, and started counting down the minutes til we got to Chicago.

Day 1 had already been a whirlwind of exhilaration, and it was barely noon.

Buckle Up

Driving in LA is my new favorite sport.

I moved to LA a few weeks ago and thought to myself “How bad could traffic really be? They’re probably just being overdramatic.” Well Wrong. It’s nuts.

Think back to the worst traffic you’ve ever sat in, now add two more lanes and overly aggressive drivers, and you have a taste of what it’s like driving here on a good day. Not only are all six lanes always full of cars, but if you’re not sitting in stop-and-go plans-ruined traffic then you’re going 80 mph look-out-I’m-crossing-five-lanes-without-looking madness. Every time you drive. I like to think I’m good at texting and driving. Now I put my phone in the trunk.

Merging onto the highway is even more fun. If you’re not gonna cut someone off then here’s hoping your lane doesn’t end. Or you’re driving a Hummer and not a two door Honda Accord.

Growing up in small town Pennsylvania, I got excited when a highway had three lanes. Here, if a highway has less than four lanes I refuse to use it because it doesn’t put my life in enough danger. Who needs coffee in the morning when you have the median to your left and an 18 wheeler merging into your lane on the right? My 25 minute commute is a rollar coaster of emotion.

Basically what I’m trying to describe is summed up perfectly with this clip from the comedic geniuses over at Family Guy.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKcSZfY1sf4&w=420&h=315]

Be safe out there friends.