Monthly Archives: August 2011

Part 3: Mega Trip Report – Vegas to Philly

This is part 3 of 3. The first part is posted here and the second part is posted here.

Day 5 – Sun, August 14th: Cleveland, OH to Pittsburgh, PA

My plan for Day 5 was to go to Cedar Point for most of the day and then drive down to Pittsburgh at night. This necessitated driving one hour out of my way (i.e., back to the west) to get to Sandusky, OH and then repeating the same hour on my way down to Pittsburgh. Oh well, not a big deal given that I’ve wanted to go to Cedar Point for a very long time and it’s not all that close to Philadelphia. For those of you who haven’t heard of Cedar Point, many people consider it to be the best amusement park in the world. It has a number of the best, tallest and fastest rides in the world. I’m a ride junkie so it’s the mecca. I got out of Cleveland around 9 AM and headed to Cedar Point for their 10 AM opening. I knew it was going to be a problematic day as soon as I stepped outside in Cleveland and saw wet streets. In addition, it was unseasonably cool outside and it was a Sunday during the summer. In other words, it was a recipe for disaster because either rain was going to close the rides or there were going to be overwhelming crowds due to the cooler weather.

As I pulled into the park, I actually managed to get a pretty good spot and it didn’t look too bad crowd-wise. I went inside and immediately headed to the coaster known as Raptor. The sign said it was just a 15 minute wait so that was promising. It wasn’t 15 minutes. That sign must’ve not been updated because it was more like 45 minutes. The good news is that the ride was great. The skies were still overcast but no rain so I headed over to Millennium Force which is considered by many to be the best traditional steel roller coaster in the world. It has a huge 300 foot drop and goes over 90 mph at its fastest. I was really excited to ride it and it didn’t disappoint — the first drop was amazing. I wish I could have gone again but unfortunately the line was about an hour and the skies were threatening to rain so I needed to move on. At this point I was debating Maverick or Top Thrill Dragster — I went with Maverick.

When I got to Maverick the time estimate was 1 hr outside the ride entrance. I was more interested in making sure I got to ride Top Thrill Dragster so I went over there instead of getting in line at Maverick. One problem: Top Thrill Dragster appeared to be paused. I had seen it running earlier but by the time I got over there it was just a bunch of people waiting for them to open it up. The line estimate was 1 hour also but I really doubt that because it hadn’t been running for at least 15 minutes and tons of people were still getting into line. This is what the scene looked like, although I didn’t take a picture of the line:

Then drops of rain started to come down. I checked the weather forecast on my phone and it looked like rain pretty much all day. Sigh. I made the executive decision to just leave even though I’d only been on two rides. Good thing because about 10 seconds after I got into my car, it started to downpour. I am going to have to go back to Cedar Point next season so I can get the full experience. Just Raptor and Millennium Force really whet my appetite. Sadly, this is what it looked like as I was driving out of Cedar Point:

I ended up just driving straight to Pittsburgh. It was a pretty hellish drive most of the way because of the weather. For about 90 minutes of the drive (not a continuous 90 minutes), we were in a torrential downpour. The entire highway was going about 30 mph with their blinkers on. I couldn’t see more than the car ahead of me. But one interesting thing I noted was how polite the drivers were in Ohio. Before the rain really started, there was one spot where there was a lot of traffic due to a lane closure. Every single person moved over into the open lane a full mile or two before the lane actually closed. Not a single person cheated. It was so unbelievable, I had to take a picture. This is what my rearview mirror looked like:

Not a single person in the left lane the whole time. It was really amazing. I am not sure what’s more efficient from a civil engineering perspective (ie, using both lanes up to the merge point or doing what is pictured above) but it was something I’d never seen before. I probably can’t convey this in writing and all of you are probably just sitting there going “big deal, no one cheated” so I’ll move on.

The rain finally let up for good around 30 minutes outside of Pittsburgh so I made a stop at a gas station to fill up and grab a quick bite to eat (I hadn’t eaten since my early breakfast in Cleveland). The stop was smooth except for one note: the gas pump overflowed on me. That is the first time that’s ever happened in my life. And it wasn’t like it happened at some random shady gas station with old equipment. This was a brand new modern Exxon gas station. But yet the autostop mechanism didn’t work. This necessitated a bit of cleanup because I didn’t want to leave the gas on the car as I’ve heard that gas can be bad for car paint. Luckily the station attendant was nice about it and gave me a towel to help clean up the gas. Overall everything seems to be fine with the paint so it’s not a big deal.

I got into Pittsburgh without any issues and checked into my hotel. I was staying right in downtown Pittsburgh by the point where the famous three rivers meet. But after a bit of catching up online, it was time for dinner so I headed out to an area known as Market Square. Unfortunately not much was open. This was pretty similar to walking around the downtown district of Cleveland on a Saturday afternoon. I guess I was just in the wrong areas. I ended up getting Chipotle in Market Square and then I headed back to the hotel for the night.

Day 6 – Mon, August 15th: Pittsburgh, PA

Day 6 was the first day of the trip with zero driving. Because of the baseball game times and my desire to visit Cedar Point, Day 6 was a somewhat forced “see a bit of Pittsburgh”-day because I needed to wait around for the game in the evening. So I started by getting “breakfast” around 11 AM at the Primanti Bros place in Market Square. I got the corned beef and it was good. Although I don’t think it’s quite as good as people say. I’ve seen Primanti Bros featured on Monday Night Football and so on for years so I had to try it. Here’s a picture of Market Square and a picture of the Primanti Bros sandwich:

I then did a little shopping for a Pirates fitted hat and I also picked up an umbrella because it was threatening to rain at the game that night and I didn’t have one with me. After that I went back to the hotel and dropped off some of the gear before heading back out with my umbrella (rain was threatening all day) and camera to do some walking around. I was debating two options: one was to go see the Batman movie set (yes, another movie set on my trip!) and the other was to walk around the area near the hotel and do more traditional touristy stuff.

I ended up walking over to Point State Park to see where the Ohio River is formed. Unfortunately the point itself appeared to be closed for some renovations so I wasn’t able to get all the way out to the point. But I got the general idea. Then I decided to walk across the Fort Pitt Bridge so I could visit the Duquesne Incline. I’d never heard of the incline before doing a little reading on things to do in Pittsburgh but it instantly struck me as a cool way to see the city. For those who don’t know what an incline is (I didn’t until the day before going to this one), it was a way to get up a large hill in Pittsburgh before powerful cars and high quality roads were commonplace. Back in the day, you either rode the incline or walked. It’s a big steep hill so I would imagine that walking it over and over, especially in bad conditions, would be quite unpleasant. So the incline was the way up. At one point there were a number of inclines running on this hill (and I presume, hills around the world) but only two are left. The ride up the incline was spectacular. And the view at the top was even better. The viewing platform has an amazing panorama view of downtown Pittsburgh. If you’re visiting Pittsburgh, go up the incline. Here’s a panorama image that I took at the top using the iPhone app Photosynth (you need to click on it to see the high res image):

Here are some other pictures from the top:

heinz field

pittsburgh view

duquesne incline

After the incline I walked back to my hotel and walked over to PNC Park for the Cardinals at Pirates game. I was pretty excited about it because I was sitting right on the first baseline (very similar seats to my Indians tickets) and I was going to get to see Albert Pujols up close. It’s not too often that you get to see arguably the best hitter of all-time play right in front of you. He is a big guy. Even standing next to big guys, he’s a big guy. I managed to get a few pictures of his swing but none of them really do it justice. That’s what happens when you use a point-and-shoot from 150-200 feet away at night (even under lights). Too bad I didn’t have a better camera with me. Although, yes, I did get another panorama from my seat (once again, click for high res):

Albert Pujols:

albert pujols

Matt Holliday:

matt holliday

The game itself was fun. The Pirates won. The stadium is an amazing park overall and I can see why it gets rave reviews around the majors. The view of downtown Pittsburgh was fantastic and the park itself is just really nice. I had yet another Primanti Bros sandwich at the game — this time a Pittsburgher. I know I said I wasn’t thrilled with the first one but I guess I wanted to try a different one and see how it was. It was similar to the one I had earlier in the day — good but nothing special. I kinda wish they would offer a toasted version, I think it might be more to my liking. Who am I to argue with tradition though? I did manage to get a cool picture of the PNC Park sign on the way out:

That was it for me that evening. At least this would be my final night in a hotel for the trip. Even though hotels can be nice, I usually can’t wait to get out of them by the time I leave. Between going to the CrossFit games, going to Dallas for a few nights and this road trip, I’d had enough of hotels by this point. I was most definitely looking forward to getting home to my parents’ house.

Day 7 – Tue, August 16th: Pittsburgh, PA to Philadelphia, PA

The final day! For a week-long road trip involving some 45+ hours on the road, this trip went amazingly quickly and easily. No problems whatsoever. The only part that sucked about it was the rain on Day 5 but I guess some inclement weather is inevitable. For my final day, the original plan was to wake up early and get on the road by 7:30 or so and get across Pennsylvania. But at the last minute, I decided to make a detour and visit Fallingwater — the famous Frank Lloyd Wright house in western Pennsylvania. I booked a tour appointment online for 11:30am which was the earliest that they had available. I made it there by about 10:30am partly due to waking up early and partly due to wanting to make sure I made it there on time (it was about 90 minutes from Pittsburgh and ended up being a really smooth drive). As luck would have it, they were able to immediately get me into the next tour group (without me even asking!) because I was a lone traveler and as they said “you can always fit one more person.”

The tour itself was really a contrast for myself. From afar, Fallingwater is incredibly impressive. And I mean that even in the sense of standing inside of it and just taking a general look around. It’s really cool. The house is built right over a waterfall and the water and view are deeply integrated into the design of the house. But, despite the impressive nature of the house, up close it’s pretty grungy and even kind of falling apart. Put it this way: I would not want to live there. And for a house that is worth millions and millions of dollars, that’s sad. But despite all of that, I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and I’m really glad that I got a chance to see it in person. It’s not the easiest place to get to so if you get a chance, see it when you can. Here are some pictures:

fallingwater

fallingwater

fallingwater

fallingwater

After Fallingwater, I got on the road for the final time and made my way across the rest of Pennsylvania. The rest of the drive was pretty smooth although there were a few ironic things towards the end. First, just as I was about to get off of the PA Turnpike, I saw my first Nevada license plate since Utah. That can’t be too common in eastern PA. Second, I hit my first bumper to bumper traffic of the entire trip when I was within 10 miles of my parents’ house. I guess this makes sense given the time of day I was driving and the area but it is kind of funny to get across the country and driving through a bunch of major cities and then hit traffic right at the end. Here are some pics of that:

Luckily, the traffic ended up being pretty tame and I made it home safe and sound by around 5 pm. Overall, the trip was a great experience and I’m really glad I did it. It made me want to do more road trips, particularly around areas I haven’t really been to. I haven’t really been to most of the south (except Atlanta) outside of brief visits so that would be a good trip or two to do sometime soon. Anyway, thanks for reading my mega trip report! Here’s a map of my whole trip, including the tourist stops in Le Claire, IA and Fallingwater (click for larger image):

Part 2: Mega Trip Report – Vegas to Philly

This is part 2 of 3. The first part is posted here and the third part is posted here.

Day 3 – Fri, August 12th: Lincoln, NE to Chicago, IL

As I stated above, the driving over the first two days was really easy. I didn’t hit any rain. No traffic. I barely even ran into anyone who caused any problems — i.e., blocking the left lane going the same speed as the slow truck in the right lane etc. Almost all of the drivers were courteous, there was a ton of room on the road and everything was smooth. Even the construction (tons of it in Nebraska) wasn’t too bad at all. Anyway, I knew this would not last given that Day 3 saw me ending in Chicago. City traffic is always an interesting experience compared to driving through rural Nebraska when you’re several hundred miles from any decent-sized city. What I didn’t anticipate was rougher driving in Nebraska. But the whole drive (only about 45 miles) from Lincoln to Omaha was actually pretty bad because it was raining, there was a lot of construction and I hit a lot of Omaha rush hour traffic. But nothing too bad because once I crossed over into Iowa it was smooth sailing all the way across the state. For what it’s worth, Iowa is bigger than you might think. It probably took five hours to cross the state, maybe a little more. The most memorable thing about most of Iowa was the rather strange brand of many of their gas stations:

I made my first “tourist” stop of the trip on the eastern edge of Iowa (25ish hours in, I deserved it!) in a small town called LeClaire right on the Mississippi river near Davenport, IA. LeClaire happens to be the “home base” of the guys from the History channel show called American Pickers. If you’re familiar with the show then you’ve definitely seen the blue garage that Mike & Frank use to store/sell some of their purchases — and, presumably, it’s where Danielle worked/works out of. It was pretty full of tourists during the time that I was there (a random Friday afternoon — so presumably it’s full pretty often). Here’s a picture that I snapped as I was walking up to it.

I am a big fan of the show as I’ve always liked collecting things and I’m usually a big fan of most of the things they buy on the show. Seeing the shop in person was awesome. And when I walked in, one of the first things to catch my eye was a Pennsylvania Amoco sign. It was definitely beat up but the good thing about that is that is that I could get it for cheaper and it has more character that way. The last thing I wanted was something that was old, expensive and in pristine condition that I needed to throw in the trunk for another 1000+ miles. So the sign was perfect but it didn’t have a price tag. Since Mike, Frank and Danielle weren’t around (they were all on the road doing their thing — I guess Danielle is out picking these days… not sure if we’ll see that reflected in the show), the girls running the shop needed to ask Mike about a price for the item. About 10 minutes later he responded and said he wanted $70 for the sign. That was an easy yes for me. Between getting something to remember my stop there by to something that I can put up in my new Philly apt to something that’s just cool — yea, $70 was easy. I probably would have paid double that. Here’s a picture of the sign:

After the stop in LeClaire and spending a few minutes looking at the Mississippi River, I got back on the road for another couple of hours worth of driving into Chicago. After crossing Utah, Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa, going across Illinois seemed like nothing in comparison. Before I knew it I was in the Chicago area although it did take awhile to actually get into the city after hitting the initial Chicago traffic. Also, driving in on I-88 was a hilarious experience. The “speed limit” (in quotes for a reason) was 55mph but the entire road was going 65+. And by entire road I mean everyone — people in the right lane included. I was in the middle lane doing 70mph which is normally too fast for me in a 55mph zone — I prefer to avoid getting speeding tickets and points on my license. But the left lane was doing 80mph+ and I was getting passed by like five to ten people per minute! I figured a cop would pull them over before me should a cop be waiting somewhere up the road so I felt okay doing 70mph. I think it’s usually safer to be moving the same speed as the rest of traffic as opposed to either passing or being passed at high speed differentials. The speed felt “normal” to me because I’d just spent a few days on 75mph highways but I couldn’t believe how ignored the speed limit was. Basically, Chicago drivers do not give a crap at all about the speed limit.

I was staying at the Marriott in downtown Chicago right along the “Magnificent Mile” stretch on N. Michigan Ave. I had a few hours to kill after getting in around 4 PM so I went out and did a little shopping. I bought a pair of Ermenegildo Zegna sunglasses (not cheap, but awesome):

I also picked up some clothing on mega-sale at Saks before heading back to the hotel. I met up with Taylor Caby and Alex Huang (one of Taylor’s employees at CardRunners) for dinner at a Mexican place called Zapatista. Both the food and conversation were really good. I think Taylor is one of the really bright and motivated people in the poker world and I’m pretty curious to see where he ends up in 5, 10, 20 years. I’m sure he’ll do great things. He has some cool projects coming up although I’m not sure what is public knowledge so I won’t mention the specifics.

Here are some more Chicago pictures. First, a view of my drive in:

Here is what it looked like in my room. Great lake view!

Also, here’s a better picture of the view:

Day 4 – Sat, August 13th: Chicago, IL to Cleveland, OH

Getting out of Chicago was super easy because I left around 7 AM on a Saturday. I was into Indiana within a few minutes and it really didn’t take that long to get into Ohio. I never even set foot in Indiana as my tank of gas from LeClaire, IA was enough to get me into Ohio and to a service plaza for some gas and food. By this point I really began to regret forgetting to order an EZPass prior to embarking on this trip (or whatever your state calls it — the automated toll payment things). I’ve since applied for an EZPass. Between going into Chicago, getting out of Chicago, getting onto the Ohio turnpike, etc — I was stopping at a ton of tolls. I managed to get stuck behind one person who was paying a 1.50 toll with nickels at one of those automated coin/bill things. The last nickel wouldn’t work. I sat there for what seemed like forever (probably only 2-3 minutes) before a worker came over and helped her out. I probably only lost 10 total minutes to tolls but the mental aggravation isn’t worth it — I should have gotten the EZPass. I didn’t actively decide against it. I would have gotten it in a second if I’d thought about it. Either way, it’s a necessity now that I’m back living in a region with tons of toll roads.

The rest of the drive was pretty simple as well. Cleveland traffic wasn’t bad considering that it was midday Saturday. Right when I got near my hotel there was what appeared to be a block closed but the weird thing was that the area looked like a disaster zone. Things were on top of crushed cars, various huge pieces of concrete were all over the street, etc. At first I wasn’t sure what was going on. My first instinct was that they were taking down a building but keep in mind that I got like a 2 second look at this when going by it. I walked by it a few minutes later and saw NYPD cars in the street. Oh. It’s a movie set. At first I didn’t know what the movie was so I took to my iPhone to figure it out and I quickly realized it was the set of the movie The Avengers. Apparently Samuel L Jackson and others were in town for the filming but I never saw any filming actively going on and I never saw anyone I recognized. Kinda strange to see NYPD cars in Cleveland, check it out:

I walked around a bit more and checked out the Browns stadium from afar. Cleveland overall seemed kinda weak to me but the view on the lake was pretty spectacular. It’s really like being on an ocean in a lot of ways given how big the Great Lakes are.

I headed over to Progressive Field around 5 PM to watch batting practice and check out the stadium. It was the Twins and Indians which was a meaningful game as it’s a divisional game and the Indians are still in the hunt given that they’re in second in the division and just a few games behind Detroit. The Indians don’t really have any big names on the team but the Twins have Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and Jim Thome. Thome is 40 and on the tail end of his career but he had 598 career home runs at game time (he reached 600 home runs two nights later) so it was kind of exciting to watch him take at bats. But the only starting player entering the game hitting over .300 was the Twins outfielder Jason Kubel so it isn’t like anyone on either team is really having a monster year (obviously injuries have played a part in that). I had a third row seat just to the right of the first base dugout — as it turns out, single tickets are quite cheap sometimes on stubhub. The game was entertaining and the Indians won so it was a good time. Here’s a random snapshot from the game:

After the game I went to a restaurant/bar called Green House Tavern because online poker player Gary “GB2005″ Bogdanski is an investor in the property and I wanted to go check it out — he’s been telling me about it for years. It is a great spot but I was by myself so it was kinda weird to be there — so I left.

While walking back from the Green House Tavern I saw some of the worst city traffic congestion I’ve ever seen. Actually it probably is the worst I’ve ever seen. There was a Packers-Browns preseason game letting out, the Indians game was letting out AND there was at least one major street (maybe more) closed for The Avengers. It was a disaster. I saw people 10+ cars deep in garages just trying to get out onto a street which was packed for as far as I could see — and it wasn’t moving! Lights would turn green and then turn red again without a single car moving forward. I saw this happen at least three times on the walk back to the hotel. It was absurd. I have no idea how long it took to clear out but I’d be shocked if people weren’t sitting there for least sixty to ninety minutes just to get onto a highway out of the city. I was really glad that I was just walking to my hotel room and didn’t have to drive out until the following morning. Whatever premium I paid for a downtown hotel room was easily worth it between saving money on parking for the game and not having to deal with game traffic.

Next up is Cedar Point followed by Pittsburgh — and then home!

Part 1: Mega Trip Report – Vegas to Philly

This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is posted here and Part 3 is posted here.

As you may know, I recently completed a move from Las Vegas to Philadelphia. The move has been in the works for a long time but it finally got under way in full force on Monday August 8th when my “pod” was dropped off at my house in Henderson (suburb of Vegas if you’re not familiar). I woke up early on Tuesday and loaded up my pod with the help of the strongest person in the US (no, not kidding): Pat Mendes. In case you’re wondering who Pat is, check out this article. After Pat helped I spent the rest of the day doing all of the annoying little remaining things related to packing. For my final dinner as a Nevada resident, I went with Pat and his coach John Broz (and John’s wife) to the brazilian steakhouse Texas de Brazil at Town Square. It was delicious. They do the usual endless rounds of various meats and I enjoyed pretty much everything.

Day 1 – Wed, August 10th: Las Vegas, NV to Grand Junction, CO

The next morning I woke up for my 9am house walkthrough with the leasing company. That went smoothly and by around 9:20 I was headed to get some breakfast. At exactly 10:17am (I will explain why I know that in a second) I turned on the car ready to get on the road. My destination for that first day was Grand Junction, Colorado which is a town of about 100,000 just over the border from Utah in western Colorado. The drive mapped out at just under 8 hours and roughly 500 miles. I picked a medium distance drive the first day partially because there aren’t a lot of decent places to stay in that region of the country and I didn’t want to book a stay in Denver in case I got a late start from Vegas — driving all the way to Denver the first day seemed too far with the unknown variables in the morning (i.e., if the person from the leasing office doesn’t show up on time). But I also wanted to make sure to get in some miles the first day so 500 miles seemed like a good compromise. It turned out to be perfect. I got in to Grand Junction in the late afternoon (remember that time jumps forward an hour going from PST to MST) and I had plenty of time to check in and then grab dinner at a place called the Rockslide Brew Pub which was right down the street from my hotel. But before I get ahead of myself, back to that whole 10:17am thing.

As you might remember from my prior blog entry with the driving test video, I bought a keychain video camera to record my entire drive across the country. I was planning on releasing the full footage as a torrent file (the files for this much driving are over 100gb in the keychain video format) as well as editing it down into a super sped up version and putting that on youtube. Everything started off smoothly — I turned the camera on at 10:17 (and I wrote down the time to make sure I changed the memory card in time and didn’t run out of space), drove about 3.5 hours to Beaver, UT, stopped to get gas and, as expected, I had a bunch of files on the memory card. I decided to unload them onto a hard drive so I could delete them from the card and use the same card for the remaining 4.5 hours to Grand Junction. So I did that, started the recording back up and continued on my way. At some point in Utah, I saw a sign for a scenic overlook so I pulled over to check it out. I also checked on the camera. That’s when I knew something was wrong. I tried to stop the recording but it appeared the camera was off. I tried to turn it back on — nothing (it’s plugged into the car so it definitely had power). I checked to see if anything was on the card — nothing. So I had everything up until Beaver, UT but nothing beyond that. I finally managed to get the camera to appear to turn on and start recording so I started driving again, wondering if it was recording. I really hoped it was because I drove by this guy walking on the highway and I saw a bunch of other cool things. Alas, when I got to Grand Junction it was not recording and I played around with it for about an hour without much luck. There went my hopes of recording the whole trip. Which is really sad because Colorado was an amazing state to drive through.

So even though I don’t have video, I did manage to snag some pictures of a wildfire north of Grand Junction. I could see it from really far away but it wasn’t clear what it was until I got closer. I read about it a bit online and it said that it was started naturally by lightning.

Overall Grand Junction seemed great. The restaurant was good, people seemed nice, weather was perfect, hotel was fine, etc. I’d love to spend more time in Colorado (particularly, west of Denver) and I definitely plan on it. I’m not much of a skier simply because I’ve never really done it — I’d love to learn though so I’ll try to get to that as soon as I can.

Day 2 – Thu, August 11th: Grand Junction, CO to Lincoln, NE

I woke up really early (5:45am) to get an early start. Day 2 was my longest drive of the trip at 725 miles from Grand Junction, CO to Lincoln, NE. Basically, I was driving almost all the way across both Colorado and Nebraska in one day. I was really excited for the first four hours or so which would take me through the Rockies on I-70. As you may know, this stretch is one of the most famous and difficult-to-build portions of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway system. I’ve seen TV shows about Glenwood Canyon before and it really lived up to the hype. It’s an incredible drive and I highly recommend that everyone make it out there at some point if you haven’t already. The rest of the Rockies were really awesome as well. Here’s a picture from the Rockies:

I was amazed at how my car went from being a fairly high performance sports car at 4,000 feet to being a struggling vehicle at 10,000+ feet during the higher parts of the drive. At one point I was going along in a slower construction zone and I needed to downshift to get some acceleration because traffic had slowed and then started to speed up. I put it in fourth gear at around 40 mph figuring that would be more than enough to give me some oomph. Nope. I put it in third gear and it was still not quick at all! It’s amazing what not having oxygen will do for an engine. Going through the Eisenhower Tunnel at 11,000+ feet was probably the highest I have ever been on land. And I think that most planes are pressurized to 8,000 feet so I think 11,000 feet is actually the thinnest air I’ve ever been in. I didn’t notice any difference but I guess sitting in a car doesn’t give you the full experience. I’m sure I would have had trouble running. Here’s a screenshot of the altitude screen on my car’s GPS system:

After descending out of the Rockies and going past Denver, I got off of I-70 and got on I-76 which heads up to the northeast corner of Colorado and merges into I-80 right around the Nebraska-Colorado border. I stopped for gas in the small town of Sterling, CO for gas and some food. I’d actually driven this stretch of I-76 only a few months before when I flew into Denver and drove up to Nebraska for ahh_snap’s wedding reception in Oshkosh, NE. But I hadn’t seen the rest of Nebraska so most of the state was new to me. It was not exciting. The post-Sterling aspect of the trip was about six hours (and prior to that was about five hours) so it was not a short day considering I only stopped once for a few minutes. But due to my early start, I managed to reach Lincoln between 6 and 7 PM despite losing another hour when I crossed into CST. On ahh_snap’s recommendation, I went to dinner at Bisonwiches which is a divey college sports bar. The corned beef sandwich was really good though.

After that I went back to the hotel to get to sleep — I was pretty worn out after the ~19 hours of driving I’d done over the prior two days even though it was really easy driving overall. My next stop was Chicago! Here is a map of my first two days:

To be continued…

Upcoming Road Trip

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m moving from Las Vegas to Philadelphia and my date of departure is coming up quickly. I will be heading out of Las Vegas on Wednesday the 10th and I should be arriving in Philadelphia on Tuesday the 16th. I am taking a little while to get across the country because I’m hitting up a bunch of stops in the midwest. My trip is roughly:

  • Day 1 (10th): Las Vegas, NV to Grand Junction, CO
  • Day 2: Grand Junction, CO to Lincoln, NE
  • Day 3: Lincoln, NE to Chicago, IL
  • Day 4: Chicago, IL to Cleveland, OH (baseball at night)
  • Day 5: Visit Cedar Point during the day, to Pittsburgh, PA at night
  • Day 6: Day in Pittsburgh (baseball at night)
  • Day 7 (16th): Pittsburgh, PA to Philadelphia, PA

I’m looking forward to the second half of the trip quite a bit. The part getting to Lincoln, NE is going to be pretty boring but it’s really only one bad day in there. The Grand Junction to Lincoln leg is looking to be a 11-12 hour drive without a whole lot to see for the last eight hours or so. At least I’ll be in the Rockies for the first four hours. Of course, all of the above is assuming that things go to plan.

Given that it’s pretty rare for me to drive across the country (I’ve done it from Atlanta to Vegas and I’ve also done Vegas to Philly before) I decided to look into recording the drive on video for fast playback later on. I found a pretty cool solution called the 808 #11 keychain camera which records in 720p (granted the lens is low quality and the sensor is small so it doesn’t look super high quality). It’s not available for purchase in the US — you need to order it online from Hong Kong. So I ordered one up and received it yesterday. Today I did a test recording driving around in Henderson NV:

Looks pretty good! That is played back at 2x regular speed — hence the goofy audio — just to make the video a little faster (given internet attention spans). I would obviously speed it waaaaaay up for a cross country drive. I’d like to make it like a 10 minute video with some titles on the screen just to say where you are since it’ll be going too fast to recognize signs and such. The amazing part about all of this? The camera only costs $40 shipped. And with the two $30 16gb microsd memory cards I can record about 600ish minutes before I will need to unload the data to a hard drive. So I can record any day (except Day 2) without needing to unload cards. This project all in is roughly a $100 proposition. Hopefully it works out the way I hope it will.

That said, need to get packing!