Summary for May 16th Ė June 18th, 2001
May 16th 3:00PM Harris Interactive.
Today I had a thought. From the moment I had it, I was unable to concentrate on any of the work tasks I had at hand. I felt something I hadnít felt in a long time. I was giddy. I sporadically giggled, and my eyes occasionally watered at the anticipation, and the possibility of itís realization.
I was remembering something that I had done 4 years earlier. When I thought about the different things I had done, the pores on my skin tightened, and gave me the chills. After about 30 minutes of staring at nothing, trying to concentrate, then thinking about things again, repeatÖ I was finally able to finish the task I needed to complete. After that, I couldnít do anything else, so I left work.
I donít even know what time I left, and was unaffected by any of the traffic around my car. Have you ever had the experience of being so deep in a thought, that when you drive, itís almost automatic. Your brain kind of goes on auto pilot. Subconsciously, you see the car in front of you is going slower than the rest of traffic, so you remember to check your mirrorís, put your blinker on, switch lanes, and accelerate slightly to pass. But, you donít really remember doing it, because your mind was so deeply involved in your thought.
Well, I took that experience to another level. I felt like John Herrigal describing a moment of Zen in his book "Zen in the Art of Archery" when he said, describing releasing the nock in the bow, and the arrow hitting the target as "The hitter becoming the hit." It was almost like Neo realizing that he could slip into and out of the Matrix, in the movie of the same name.
I was entirely conscious of the cars around me and the increased traffic, but I felt like a little child in a sandbox playing with them. Or, I could have been in a future world, where all the cars had the ability to fly, and I was in one of them, but maybe a passenger, flowing in the endless pattern of traffic watching the world beneath me pass by.
There was a cloud around my car that nothing else could impact in a negative way. If they got too close the cloud would just get bigger in that direction, and give a little of itself to the other car, then the car would feel some love and enjoy itís ride cloud too. They cars were meaningless to me. They had no power of stress or irritation over me; they simply were as I was, there.
I found myself at Cobbís Hill Park where I often go after work to relax and walk around the reservoir. The car stopped, it turned off, and the keys were in my pocket. The door opened, and I floated out. I felt myself walking around the reservoir thinking more.
I remembered standing along the side of the road in Arkansas. It was dusk, it had been in the 100ís earlier. There had been reports on the Radio during the day about what to do with your livestock to keep them from dying of heat exhaustion. There was an endless field of some grain on each side of the road, in front of me, and behind also. Literally, as far as I could see, there was grain. It was about waist high, and flowing with the wind. If you have ever seen a field of grass from a plane at low elevations when the wind is blowing, then you can comprehend what I am talking about. The breeze was still very warm, and the sounds of the insects in the grass were deafening. The smell was slightly sweet from the grass.
To the southeast, I could see a thunderstorm on the horizon. I guessed this, because I couldnít hear any thunder whatsoever. It had to be 40 Ė 50 miles away. The sky was black, except for the lightning, strikes that came every 20 or 30 seconds. In the west, a beautiful sun was setting. The sunset itself wasnít spectacular, slightly pink and orange, but in the near foreground was an old barn, with a small weathervane that had fallen in disrepair. The scene was inspirational.
I remember thinking to myself, that this was really indescribable. There is no way to make someone who hasnít sensed this, the smell, the sounds, and the sights, without having them see it. My thought was, I can understand how people fall in love with this. I can understand why someone would want to be a farmer. I can understand why someone would want to call this home. I think everyone should see this at one point or another in their lives.
I thought to myself, I want to experience things like that again.
May 16th Ė June 13th.
The weight of the Fog.
For me, the not so fun thing about taking 4 months off from reality is planning.
My todo list was as follows:
Find adequate transportation for the trip.
-Had the Jetta I could trade in.
-Didnít want to spend more than 4000 dollars on appropriate transportation.
-Wanted something that I could sleep in.
-Wanted something with 4 wheel drive.
-Wanted tinted windows
-Wanted a car alarm.
Find adequate means to record the trip
Find adequate means to distribute my journals
-Web Server / Hosting
-Rent for the duration
-Utilities for the duration
-Get a cell phone or voice mail
-Cancel existing phone service
-Talk with my parents
-Say goodbye to my friends
-Talk with people that might let me stay with them along the way.
-Quit my current job
-Inform recruiters of my status
-Unpost my resumeís from Monster / HotJobs
-Finish up stuff at work. (NNM Project, HPUX3 Migration)
I had 19 days, including weekends, and excluding time in New York City which I had already made plans for, and Rock Climbing at the Niagara Escarpment for Memorial Day weekend. My plan was to leave on the 11th of June. I didnít make it until the 13th.
Another thing that kind of was working against me is that when I look for something to purchase, I am a very critical buyer. I usually do as much research as I can on the product / service, test the products / services that I am considering, and then make a decision on what I want. At that point, I really donít like to change my mind about what it is that I want, and I move forward with my plan in the most efficient and conservative way that I can. In that sense I am almost unwavering. And it happens as such that the item, or service I want to purchase, is difficult. Itís sometimes new, or different in some way that makes itís acquisition difficult. What can I say, I like what I like.
For example. I wanted to buy a digital camera. I also was considering purchasing a digital camcorder. I wanted to get products that were interoperable. So, SONY seemed like a good choice. Most of there products are modular, meaning that if you get one, the cables and such that you are using are generally interoperable. I also recognized the SONY brand name as one of the leaders in Digital "Goodies" on the market. I went to Rowe Photo / Video, and talked at length with one of there salesmen. I got a lot of good information, and decided that I would purchase the SONY DCS-S75 Digital Camera. I had also decided that I would either purchase the DCR-TRV17, or the TRV30 Digital Camcorder. So, once I decided this, I went online to purchase it, trying to find the lowest cost, and easiest shipping. I went to a web site that rates each of the online retailers. I was looking for a place that was not in New York, so I could avoid paying sales tax, and for a place that had free shipping. In addition, I figured that I would call each place to make sure that they had the item in stock. The salesman, "Randy" at Rowe Video said that the DCS-S75 was delayed in shipping by Sony for at least a month. None of the places on the web could get it before June.
I called a couple other vendors, but ecost.com in California turned out to be the best match. The price was similar to prices of other vendors, but I didnít have to pay sales tax, and shipping was free. So, I called to see if they had the item in Stock. They did, so I ordered it. I ended up saving 300 dollars or so.
My experience buying the camcorder was similar, but I ended up having to pay sales tax, and shipping because there were fewer online retailers of the camera. I bought it from a place in NYC called Digital Something or other. They talked me into buying a UV filter, and sent me the wrong kind. Plus, it was a hassle trying to get it shipped by the time I was leaving. But I ordered it anyway.
I would say that the process of buying these two products took about a full weeks time, and due to the stress involved, shortened my life about 2 days.
Most of the other little "projects" or sub Ė agenda items were in the same realm. The only things that I didnít get done prior to the trip were the car-top carrier, and a sleeping bag. You have read about the carrier, and I will expand on this other stuff later.
June 14th 12:16AM Ė Entry for Wednesday the 13th.
I have to try and get diligent writing these journal entries, because when one is visiting other people, it is very easy to talk with them, and not talk with your self, which is basically what writing a journal isÖ So, I left today at 4:41PM EST from Bay Village. I felt good when I left, like I had finished, and accomplished all the things I wanted to do.
Of course, I could have done some more things, like get the web site, up better, and patch my box, so it was up to the latest rev. But I guess sacrifices must be made. Anyway, I think I had a good compromise between getting things done, and leaving.
I meant to leave at 1:00PM, but of course I was running late. Iím surprised how much room I have in the car. I think a lot of it has to do with not bringing so many clothes. The back part, that the inside cover is over, is only over my bike. All the rest of the stuff is in the back and front seats.
I made some modifications to the vehicle prior to leaving. I chokeÖ tinted the rear windows, so that I would have a little more privacy when sleeping in the vehicle. Two comments about this. 1. I should have used a darker tint. 2. I should have had someone else do it. If any of you have ever attempted this, then you know what I am talking about. It ainít easy. I already have bubbles popping up in some of the windows that I did. By the time I got to the last window, I just wanted the agony to be over. I really didnít care, and kept telling myself, that I would pull the tint off after the trip was over. (This made it easier to stomach the junky job that I did.) Ė I guess I am more about function than form. My point was to make the back of the car darker for privacy. I did that. Forget the fact that you can see the seams, and bubbles, and probably wonít be able to roll the rear windows down without peeling up the tint.
Other modifications include. Fixing the front passenger side automatic window. Whenever I rolled the window down, it made a loud "CLUNK", and I could visibly see the inside of the door, push towards the inside of the car. So, I took the inside cover off the door, and poked around a little. As I suspected, some of the bolts were loose, and just needed to be tightened. I took care of that in a jif, and no more clunks. Getting the door cover back on was a bigger problem than I imagined. Ė I will say this. I think this principal applies to anything that you are trying to do. If you have worked at something in one way, and it seems like it is way too difficult to get it to work, it isnít meant to go the way you are thinking. Ė This I will declare is one of my "Principals" Ė I will make the verbiage at a later dateÖ
Last two modifications. I took the rear bench seat, the rear seatbelts, and the rear headrests out of the car. This is to give me more room. I did this late last night when I got back from the bars, and didnít notice that now when the seat is laid flat, that it is actually angled down, and bending in the other direction towards where the bench seats used to be. I will have to put some things underneath it to give it a little boost.
Last thing to mention. I am really tired, and I feel my writing is kinda monotonous when I am this way, but this is good to mention.
As I was leaving Bay Village and driving up Bayview where it turns into Norton, I realized where I was going, and when I would be back. It gave me a very unique feeling. Itís tough to describe. Kind of euphoric, and devoid of stress, like "There is no more planning to do." "The only things left to do is to be". So the feeling is definitely good, and caused me to laugh out loud. I kind of felt like I was in a movie, like I could see myself, but my vantage point was next to me and above to the right.
I would probably be somewhere outside the car, or just inside it looking at me, and out on the road. Or I was outside of myself, and knew what I was doing, but could see all the other people in there cars coming home from work, or going to Wegmans to buy groceries.
I saw these people, and myself, and thought, "They have no idea where I am going". It would be so interesting to talk to each and every one of them about my trip. I wonder if they would be interested in hearing what I have to say?
The feeling was also a little sad in a way. A little, because all the packing and planning, and preparation was finished. That stuff is a major pain, but I think itís just like anything that you think about for a long time, and build up in your mind. 9 times out of 10, itís usually a letdown, or an anti Ė climax. Say for instance you are a salesman, and are working with a client for a long time to establish a relationship, and try to get them to purchase your product. They put there requirements out for bid, and you have to come up with a proposal for them to evaluate.
This process could go on for weeks, even months. Because they will revise their requirements, and try to get each of the potential vendors to under bid each other, etc. This is nerveracking for the salesman, because he is trying to do his best, and work with the client, but the process is so long, and tedious.
So, after say 9 months of going back and forth, the customer finally decides they have chosen a vendor, and want to move forward. For the salesman, now all that needs to happen is to sit back and wait for the commission checks to roll in. But, after working so hard for something for so long, you kind of feel ehh. The transition from hard work to nothing is quick, and a little harsh.
Thatís kind of similar to what I felt when pulling onto 590 south, then the next thought was "rush hour". Ė A song that was playing on the radio 90.5 WBER Ė It was on the Webster High School station at the time, really summed up my feelings. It was the first time I had heard Pink Floydís "Fearless". Not the words, but the flow and rhythm of the song. I highly recommend listening to it if you want to get a sense of my feeling today (yesterday). But listen to it for the first time, on a sunny day with the windows down, on the beginning of a long road trip.
June 14th, 2001 Joe + Amyís Apartment in Fairlawn, Ohio.
I am sitting in my friend Joe's house in Ohio, nearest to Akron. I wanted to get little red flashing light for my car so that intruders might think it had an alarm, and avoid tampering with it, and I could have a little more sense of security for all of my stuff. Plus, I told my insurance company that I was going to get a car alarm.
Anyway, yesterday, and the day before, I was so busy with getting other things together, that I didn't have time to look at Radio Shack for a red led that I could stick in my dash somewhere. So, I started searching online for car alarms, and Radio Shack had a cheap alarm system for 69 dollars. I didn't really care, and it said that it could be installed in 10 minutes. So, I went ahead and had it shipped to Joe's house in Ohio.
It arrived yesterday, and I installed it today. It took longer than 10 minutes. But, it was still pretty simple to install. After about an hour in the sun, I was 1/2 way done installing it. I think the whole thing, hooking it up to the battery, mounting it to the frame, routing the flashing LED on my dash took about 2 hours. It's sooo funny though. I don't know if I have ever used the word "cute" to describe the sound of a car alarm, but mine... Is cute. It sounds like a car alarm from "Alvin and the Chipmunks"... Really high pitched, and not especially loud. I don't think it would deter too many thieves from breaking into my car, but I hope that they think twice about it before they try it anyway.
Anyway, the siren is supposed to have two sensors in it. A shock sensor, and a voltage sensor. So, theoretically if it's armed, and I open the door and turn on the overhead light it's supposed to go off. It doesn't. It does go off however when you start the car... Oh well, I guess you get what you pay for. Plus I am getting the break on my insurance. If you bump really hard into the car, the shock sensor is tripped, and it goes off.
It's so funny though. The sound isn't even really that annoying. I mean I wouldn't leave it running for that long, but it's a little less annoying than maybe a baby crying or something of that nature.
So, I did that this morning, then went to Lunch with Joe. We went to Rockney's. It's supposed to be modeled after Knute Rockney. The food was average. I took a bunch of pictures with my Digital camera, and passed the time that way. I came up with another philosophy about racism. I am going to put it in tonight's journal, so you will see it in the e-groups mail.
I don't know if I mentioned it, but I wanted to buy a Thule car "pod", to put on the roof, so I can put my bike in it and stuff. I looked all over Rochester for the one I want, I forgot what it's called off the top of my head. I am putting the summary together, and itís the Evolution 1600. But, I went looking around today, and couldn't find one here either. One of the guys in a bike shop told me that the corporate headquarters are in Chicago, so I am sure to be able to find one there.
I am psyched, because that will give me about twice the amount of space that I currently have, plus my bike will be safe from rocks kicked up on the road and stuff.
Well, I gotta take a shower, I am kind of sticky. It's really humid here, and we just went for a / hike / walk / run in the park near Joes house.
This is very cool, because 1. I donít have to carry it around across the states. 2. Because I donít have to wrap it and bring it to the wedding. 3. Because I did it online, and it took about 10 minutes. 4. Because itís something they definitely wanted, and they are happy with it. J
I sat in the hammock while he worked the grill. He marveled at the coolness of the little digital timer that he got a while ago. He said "This is perhaps the best gift I have ever received". After he grilled the veggies, and the chicken, he put it all in a bowl, and brought it upstairs. There we scooped it out onto our plates, and put feta cheese all over it. IT WAS DELICIOUS! Amy said that "Joe is an excellent cook" and "I am going to marry him" and "I am so lucky" Ė She is very excited.
We drank margaritas while grilling. Yum Yum. If you have never had the mix ones that you get in a big tub, and add your own tequila. You can get them at Wegmans. I definitely recommend them. They are great. But stick to the recommend amount of Tequila, or Rum if you do the Strawberry Daquriís, because if you go overboard, they wonít freeze. I have personally done this.
My philosophy about racism. Prejudice is not something that people can help. This is a natural born instinct. Think about the first Antelope that saw a lion for the first time. The Antelope walked up to the Lion and said "Hello thing, how are you?" Ė The lion promptly ate the Antelope. The other Antelopeís saw this, or maybe this one escaped with itís life, and told the others to watch out for the thing with the big furry head, because it has sharp teeth. Example #2. Think about when you walk somewhere, or drive into a city, and it really smells bad. The first 30 seconds to 5minutes, you canít stand it, and you kind of cover your nose, but all in all, if you have to be there, you cringe and bear it, and then you get used to it. This is a natural de-sensitization that occurs in all humans, and it is how we adapt to stimuli that we encounter. Other examples, when you go out in the sun, your eyes adjust. Policemen who see all sorts of horrible car accidents, or shooting victims. They get used to these things, and when they see it, they can do their jobs without crying, or throwing up. This is all natural, and necessary for life.
The same can be said for prejudice. People only know what they learn. I would consider "my little world" in Rochester as having few interactions with people of other races. When I do have interactions with people of other races, in particular black folks, often times those interactions are negative. Several times when I have been coming back from the RAC in downtown Rochester, I have been approached by black men who ask for money, and approach me in a manner that I am uncomfortable with. Other times, when this has happened, I have not felt safe. So, I become used to this kind of interaction with black people. This is certainly prejudice, but I feel that it is a naturally occurring phenomenon, that is in human beingís nature.
When I went to NYC these past few weeks prior to going on this trip, one of the friends I visited lived in Brooklyn, in Clinton Hills. The first time I got off the subway in Brooklyn, and got up to the street level, I was very nervous, and concerned for my safety. I was the only white person, obviously just coming from the airport with my suitcases, and having valuables with him. I really didnít know where I was, and how to get to my friendís house, and was definitely not interested in having a negative interaction with a any one.
But, you know what happened? Nothing. Nobody paid any attention to me. After about 10 minutes, I no longer expected every black person I met to ask me for money, or approach me in a negative manner. Reason why, none of them in the neighborhood did. I walked for about 7 blocks, and saw 50+ black folks on the streets, and at the school I walked by, and not a one asked me for change. I then adjusted to this new environment, and became much, much happier, and felt safe because of it.
Later one of the other times I went to visit, I wanted to watch the Knicks game, and Lee didnít have cable, so I went to a local bar, which was down the street, and a couple blocks over. I walked in, and I was one of about 2 or 3 white people in a bar full of local Brooklyners. Again, I didnít really feel too safe, because this was there turff, and I was watching a Kincks game in there bar Brooklyn at 11:00PM at night. Again, what happened? - NOTHING. I had a couple beers, and watched the game with a bunch of great people.
I must tell you all, that I felt safer in New York City, (Brooklyn), than I have felt often times in Downtown Rochester. I took the subwayís from Manhattan back to Brooklyn at 3:00AM by myself, and didnít have any bad experiences, I walked around Brooklyn late at night, and had no bad experiences. I really think that everyone who thinks that they might be racist, or prone to prejudice, should experience these things, and see what a positive experience it has on your outlook towards life.
June 18th Lee Davenportís apartment, for June 15th.
Most of this morning, I packed up my things, and kind of ambled around Joeís place getting ready to go. I packed and repacked as I will certainly do several times on my trip. I am really all about efficiency of and conservation of space and movement. I follow this philosophy in my life as much as I can. When I plot a route on a map, or think about the places I am going, or even trips up and down the stairs, I try to make the amount of effort as little as possible, and the route as direct as possible.
For example, if I have to go to Wegmans, Kmart, and I have to fill my car with gas, I will think of the best order to go to each. Wegmans is on the Right side of Ridge Road traveling West, Kmart and the Gas Station are on the left side. The considerations are of course, that once I get the food, it will have to stay in the car until the rest of my chores are finished. I need gas, and want to do that first, but itís on the wrong side of the road for the most direct route. Wegmans is closest to me, then the Gas Station, then Kmart. So, I decide that I will do Kmart first, then hit the gas station, then Wegmans.
When I eat lunch at Harris Interactive, I use my own bowl, silverware, and cup and wash them after each meal. The rest of the people make fun of me, while they throw away at least one Styrofoam plate, two pieces of plastic silverware, and two plastic cups at each meal. I will certainly harp on the amount of garbage that Americans generate several other times on this trip.
So, anyway, I was repacking my car to get the most efficient use of space along the way. I did this for a while, then Joe came out and asked me if I wanted a chair for my trip. I said that I wanted one of those Crazy Creek fold out camping chairs, which can also double as a belay station. We called Dicks, and they had one!!!
So, Joe I and Max made a trip down there, and picked one up. We also stopped at the Healthfood store, and got me a nice big water jug, as well as some Cliff bars. Then we came back, and I packed up the rest of my things, and was on my way. The drive was long, and tiresome. I think it was 6 and Ĺ hours, even with a stop in Indiana for Gasoline, and a couple slices of pizza.
The rest stop was filled with folks who were definitely from the Midwest. Poor Hygine, low intelligence, and not so often cleaned teeth, were the norm. I ordered a "double slice" of pizza from Fazoliís express. I ordered plain because the pepperoni was more expensive, and looked like it had been sitting out for quite some time. The cashier told me that it would take about 3 or 4 minutes to have them cook me up a fresh pizza. I came back in five, and the people in the Kitchen hadnít put it in the oven yet. They didnít realize that all the pizza they had available was Pepperoni, and that they would have to put a fresh Plain in.
So, 12 minutes, a status phone call to Katie, and a piece of compensation cheesecake later, my double slice was ready. It was pouring outside, so I ran to the car, hopped in, and headed back out on the road. The weather was very bad for most of the end of Ohio, and the first half of Indiana. I got about 240 miles to the tank on that trip, I think because the wind was blowing so much. At first I thought it was because something was wrong with the car, but when I drove to Wisconsin last night, I had about 140 miles on a Ĺ tank, which puts me back in the 280 range for a full. That was with the Thule Evolution 1600 on top, also, so I am happy my fuel efficiency has not decreased dramatically because of it.
My tank is 15.9 gallons, so I am getting about 17.5 miles to the gallon. Thatís not too great especially on the highway. Maybe it will be better when I get the oil changed. The car does have a lot of miles on it, and is full time AWD, but thatís terrible. Itís going to cost me a ton of coin to fuel my trip. 12,500 miles, divided by 280 means I will fill up my tank about 44 and Ĺ times. At an average of a dollar 80 cents a gallon thatís 28 dollars a tank. That canít be right, because I havenít spent more than 20 bucks to fill up the car yet. I will definitely have to investigate this moreÖ
So, when I got to Chicago, Katie told me to buzz into the office, and someone would let me up. The downstairs sign said Harris Interactive 2nd floor. I got buzzed in, and went up to the second. It was definitely not what I thought it was going to be like. There was garbage on the floors, and dust everywhere. It looked like someone had recently moved out of the office, and that no one was currently in that office space. I didnít see anyone, so I figured I would walk around and call for Katie. I thought to myself, "Man Harris Interactive, must not be doing as well as I thought they were, this place is trashed." There was no one around. I did find an office, but it was also in disarray. This place was definitely wrong.
So, I went back downstairs, and took the elevator to the 3rd floor. There I found Katie. She was just filling out her TRS (Time Reporting System) for all of you non-Harris Interactive folks. So, I went back out in the Alley, and moved some stuff around, so she would have a place to sit in the car. We drove back to her place, I took a shower, and we went out to dinner.
Chicago, IL Sunday AM Katie Hickeyís apartment.
Journal Entries for the last couple daysÖ
Food. On the 15th, Katie and I ate at the Heartland Café in Rogers Park. Excellent fare. Very casual very hippy atmosphere. There were four levels of seating. One could sit at the Bar, in the main dining room, in the screened Ė in porch, or outside, in the garden surrounded street side area. The dishes had a definite vegetarian theme. For an appetizer, I had a "cold" soup which was a little like salsa, but thinner. It had watermelon chunks in it, as well as hearty globs of cornbread or cous cous in the bottom. It was called Watermelon Gespatcho I think. It was very good. I was a little nervous to have it, but it turned out to be extremely good and appetizing. I almost licked the bottom of the cup.
For the main course, I had "Heartland red and black bean chili" Ė It came with a whole lot of parmesean cheese, a side of rice. There were nice big chunks of vegetables all over the place, including Artichokes, and Mushrooms. It came with cornbread, that was slightly dry. I also had a Newcastle Brown Ale with my dish. Excellent Beer.
Then we went to a coffee place, and I had a few sips of a Chai Latte. Much better than the ones that I had in the East Village. I was very tired.
On the 16th, we went to Andies at around 5200 on North Clark Street, again in Edgewater. This was a Medeterrain fare. Greek, Turkish, and otherís were represented. We had the Dipper sampler platter which had cous cous, baba ganoush (smoked eggplant), humus, patata, and a pepper dip. These were all on a plate that could be dipped with the bread that they brought you out. My favorite was the patata; it was very mashed potatoes, with a ton of garlic. I ended up scooping a big fat ton onto the little fried pita wedges that came with it. An old guy with gray hair, and a high pitched, smokers, godfather type voice, kept dancing around and yelling "OPA!!" whenever someone brought out a dish that was flambeí. He sang a lot to the greek songs that they played in the bar too. He was a hoot.
As some of you know, I have been trying patiently to get a Thule Cartop "pod", or box as they refer to them. I started looking in Rochester before I left. I went to Snow Country, and was disappointed to hear from "Mark" that they just had to return the only "Evolution 1600", part number 672 in the Thule catalog because someone had installed the mounting rack upside down. He informed me that this particular model, would be the best for my needs. I wanted to put my bike somewhere outside of the inside of my car. I had originally considered a typical bike rack, but when I went to Towpath bike shop in Pittsford, one of the guys there told me that I would kill my bike if I left it on a rack on a 4 month road Ė trip.
He suggested the car-top carrier, which I started looking for at Snow Country. So, anyway Mark from snow country seemed fairly casual about the availability of these, I now know "new for April 2001", car boxes. He gave me the names of a couple other Thule dealers in the area who I called. None of them had it, but they would all be delighted to order it for me at an exorhbatent expense for shipping, and handling. The things weigh around 30 lbs, and are BIG!
None of these other places could order the Evolution in less than a week, so I started on the trip without, intending to get one in Akron, Ohio. Murphy has been watching over me trying to find these Racks, so of course the 5 places that I looked / inquired at in Akron didnít have them either. But in the one bike shop we went to, Sun Valley Sports, I explained to the guys working there my plight. I told them I was on a road trip, and my next stop would be Chicago. The managerish guy said "Oh, your going to Chicago, well Thule is in Chicago, so you will have no problem finding one there." Ha Ha HaÖ. At the time, I was very hopeful, and considered that agenda item complete.
Little did I know that finding the Evolution 1600 would be like finding a needle in the anecdotal haystack. I first started looking for this box on Friday night at Katieís apartment. She was gracious enough to let me use her telephone for the local calls. Of course by the time I finished driving all day from Akron, I didnít start making inquiries with the local shops until around 8:00PM on Friday night.
Of the 6 or so places that I called, most of the folks working were junior level guys whose most common answer was a slow drawn out "Uhhh, Iím not really sure on thatÖ" One guy didnít know if they carried them, or if they even could order them. Another guy actually said "Why donít you call back tomorrow and talk to someone who knows what they are doing". I also got Thuleís office number and tried to give them a call. Their office hours were M-F 8-5, so that was a bust. So, I gave up Friday night, and resolved to start fresh Saturday morning.
Then of course wonderful dinner with my hostess at the Heartland CaféÖ Skip to Saturday morning.
After a very restful night on the nice velvet couch, Katieís apartment is awesome by the wayÖ I woke up bright and early, right around the time the phone rang at about 9:30, and started looking again. I dialed in using the 800 number that Harris let me have. Works very well, thank you very much. So, I dialed in, and started looking at the Dealer locater on Thuleís site. I asked Katie who was up by this point what the zip code for the Area was. That gave us a much broader search, and turned up about 20 or so "Dealers" in the Chicago Area.
Store after store didnít have the rack, or carry the Thule productís at all. I called Performance Bike, Cycle Smithy, The shred shop, EMS, Sportmart (All three locations), Arlington Bicycle, REI, (City Location), and a host of others. Many of the shops gave me numbers to call of other places in the area that might have the racks.
The closest I got was to find a dealer called Albertoís who carried the Yakima Space Cadet. This was really a luggage Carrier that looked like a big box. It definitely was not as cool as the Thule Evolution 1600, and my Subaru Outback needs as much cool as it can get. The Space Cadet would have fit the bike with both wheels off, but it wouldnít have fit a snowboard, or other semi Ė longish type things. So, I was hesitant about looking at it. Plus the place was way out in the burbs, so I really didnít feel like driving out to see something that I knew I wasnít going to like. To top it off, the guy couldnít tell me the dimensions of the box. I had to look it up on line. Thatís where I saw a pic of it, and judged the box by itís cover.
We broke for lunch at the Edgewater Restaurant. Not too tasty, The tunafish sandwich was gross. The only saving grace was the fries, and the vegetable soup. They didnít even mix the Mayo in with the tuna. They kind of just half-heartedly mixed it in, so I had big globs of Mayonnaise all over the place. Gross. Plus the sandwich was so big that I couldnít eat it as a sandwich I had to fork it.
Then, we came back and I finished calling all of the places on the original list from Thule. Again, no dice. I started to get a little bummed, and kind of just sat here thinking about things to do. I think Katie felt bad for me, because it was now around 2:30PM, time for the Cubís game, and I really wanted to resolve this issue today. I guess I figured that I had a better chance of finding something today, being Saturday, then I would tomorrow. Plus she said that the Cubís were playing again on Sunday. I decided that I would keep trying to figure this out, and go to the game tomorrow.
I thought about calling my next stop, Wisconsin. So, I went back online, and did the dealer locater thing in Madison. I came up with a few hits, and found a customer service number for Thule. I was about to make the calls, when I came to a cgi form to submit a question for Technical support at the Thule site. I filled it out, and told them my dilemma. After it was done, I of course had to submit my e-mail address, and phone number, the form came back and I read "Someone will get back to you the next business day" Ė This was going to be Monday of course. Anyway, Iím sure to get junk from them later. I got offline, and called the customer service number. Which rang until it went to voice mail. "No available customer service representatives are available to take your call at this time. Please leave a message, and someone will be sure to respond to you shortly." Ė Yea, right.
I called the numbers in Madison, again no dice. One of them said they could order it in 3 days, which was the best so far. Another guy affirmed the fact that Thule had a large warehouse in the Chicago Area, and he said "I canít believe you canít find one there". I couldnít believe it either.
I was kind of at the end of my rope, and thought maybe I can call EMS, and maybe they can ship it to a store in Montana, or Seattle, and I can pick it up there. I called EMS Online, and spoke to a helpful woman, who said they donít ship those items, but maybe one of the stores might have it. I was surprised when her answer to my question "Can you check the inventory of your stores from there?", was "Yes". That seemed really slick, and a great business move. I wonder what boxes are housing there back end servers? I bet somewhere there is a SUN Box running Solaris. J
She then said "Sir, corporation wide, we donít have any of the Evolution 1600ís in stock." I just laughed. I then explained my plight to her as well. I think her name was Wendy or something. She sounded like a hippy, but she said "I read in a magazine yesterday about a place you can order rackís online from called Rackís are us .com, or something.
By this time I was calling from my cell, and surfing as I did it. So, I went to the site, and looked at it. I thanked her and went to call them. On there site, there was "Free shipping on all orders over 45 dollars". I found the Evolution 1600 on there site, but underneath it said in small letters, "Free shipping does not apply to all car boxes". Go figure. Also, under the pic of the Evolution, it said "This item cannot be oredered online, and must be purchased in our store." They were in Vermont. I figured I would call anyway.
Amazingly the guy said. "Sir, we are out of stock on those items presently." I asked about shipping, he said, "we are working on that. " Indicating to me that they currently canít do it, but in the next few months they would be able to. Goodbye.
Then I called another online bike rack place that I found surfing. It said they stock these boxes on there site. Again "We donít have that in stock, but we can order it for you." "Thanks, goodbye!"
So, back to the Montana Idea. I decided to call REI. I spoke with Sandy on the phone, and of course started out telling her my story, and how I have had all sorts of problems finding this particular rack. She checked her inventory, and low and behold. "Yes, we have those in stock." I was agahastÖ "You mean I can order one from you online. She said "Yes!" Then we started talking about shipping, and rates, and stuff. She said there would be an additional 45 dollar charge, but then just add that to the regular shipping which was 7.95 for regular, 19,95 for 2 day, and 24.95 for overnight.
My pessimistic side, was skeptical about the possibility of overnighting something like this, and especially for the low cost that she mentioned. "You can overnight something like this, and itís the same price as regular items?"
She had to check. When she came back on the line she said "Iím so glad I checked, because my boss informed me that we cannot overnight, or 2nd day an item of this size. So, we were back to the week. But, I could still order it which was a big fat bonus. She asked me if I had tried both the stores in the Chicago Area. "I said I think I called the one in Niles, but not the one in Oakbrooke Terrace." "She said, I can call that one for you if you like." At this point I was thinking where I could order the box to. Maybe ship it to Kristen in Montana. I wouldnít have it for the Wisconsin, Montana leg, but at least I would have it.
She got back on the phone and for a moment I heard heard a chourus of Angles sing "Hallelujah." She said "I just called the Oakbrook Terrace store, and they have one in stock." The words came to me slowly, and directly. I could tell she was kind of holding back her excitement. Then it hit me, "They have one in stock at the Oakbrooke Terrace store?" This meant no shipping, no coordinating with stores along the way, no shipping it to Kristen, none of the above. I could simply go to the Oakbrooke Terrace store and buy it. AgainÖ I could simply go to the Oakbrooke Terrace store and buy it.
I said to Sandy "Holy Crap, Are you serious?!!!??" She said "yes, and the store manager wantís your name and number so he can hold the item for you." I gave her my name and number, and she relayed it to the individual at REI. She then gave me directions, and the phone number to the store. I couldnít really pay attention, I was floating on a chousion of air. I asked her "Do you know what you have just done for me?" She simply said "I hope you enjoy it." I said I certainly would, and thanks so much.
So, I called the store and confirmed that it was holding for me. Then Katie and I drove down to get it. Most of the way I was thinking about how, it might not be there, or someone else might purchase it instead, or all the things that culd go wrongÖ But, we made it in about an hour or so, and I bought it, and installed it in the parking lot. The top is silver instead of black. But I think it increases the coolness factor of the car by at least 50%. Matt the Green Mohawk haired salesguy at R.E.I. who helped me out, said 150%. Maybe it was somewhere in between.
As a bonus, my bike fitís in it, with only the front wheel removed. YOO HOOO!!! Agenda Item complete!
June 18th 2001 Lee Davenportís apartment 151 N. Wilson Street, Madison, WI.
I am exhausted. When I get this tired, I canít type fast, in fact, I can barely type at all. My thoughts are disjointed, and canít really be put together. I canít even really put a good sentence together. So, this journal entry may be a little weak.
Leeís apartment is awesome. Itís big, and has cool hardwood floors that go from one end of the other. The entrance comes into an octagonal room, that connects to the living room, which connects to Leeís bedroom. The other direction goes to the bathroom, and kitchen. It has a lot of character.
Today I woke up a little late. Woke up, and typed for the last couple days. Then took the "L" train to Wrigley field, and watched the Cubs Edge the Twins 5 to 4, to sweep the series with the twins. I saw Sammy Sosa hit his 1000th homer out of the park.
The guys we were sitting next to were playing a game with a cup and a bunch of dollars. When the cubs were hitting, they would pass the cup to each member of their group. If the batter struck out, or got out on the pitch, they would have to put a dollar into the cup. If the batter hit a single, or advanced the bases once, then they would get to pick a dollar out of the cup, two dollars for a double, three for a triple, and the whole pot for a home run.
Jim said "You guys can get in if you want", so Katie and I did. We were even after our first turn, the girl in front of us had the cup when Sammy Sosa was at bat, and she won about 20 dollars. She was excited.
We were kind of ill prepared for the game. We didnít bring sunscreen, nor did we bring our own water, nor did we bring adequate head protection from the sun. (Hatís and such). We were thinking more about getting tickets.
We ended up getting scalped tickets for 40 dollars apiece. The face value of the tickets was 23 dollars apiece. I tried to haggle, and to mention that it was the first inning. The guy didnít budge. Katie said "Itís my treat", and bought the tickets anyway. I think it was worth it. The game was a lot of fun. We had a couple beers, during the game, but mostly sat and watched.
The bleachers where we sat were considered the "Party section". There were really no seat assignments, and people just sat wherever they wanted to. We found a seat ĺ down towards the field, about 3 spots in from the end. For security, they had two people watching the people to make sure that they didnít get unruly. They didnít even get to watch the game. Mark was watching everyone with his back to the game the entire time. The only thing that I saw him do is mention to the people sitting in the front not to hang over too much on the bleacher.
Pete called me during the singing of the national anthem. I was still in the Subway station. He is cool. I called him back when Sammy Sosa hit his first home run. I bought him a tee shirt from the field. He loveís the cubs. I really liked Wrigley Field. There were no instant replay screens, and the stadium is in the middle of a neighborhood, so it seems really historic. I think it is shorter than most fields also.
We left in the top of the 9th inning. Katie was really sunburnt, and I was needing to get to Madison. The drive from Chicago to Madison was relatively uneventful, but it rained and lightninged some of the way. I am getting much better fuel mileage than I was from the leg from Ohio to Chicago. I think the wind had something to do with it. I only got about 240miles to the tank from Ohio. I already have 150 or so, and I am only half full of my present tank, so I am doing better.
Man Iím tired. I am bedding it.
June 18th 2001 Ė Lee Davenportís apartment Madison, WI
Comfortable in your own skin. Ė Joe and I went for a walk / hike through the woods by his house. We were talking about life, and stuff. It was a good walk / hike. I think it may have been too warm for max the dog, because a couple times on the way back, he wanted to sit in the grass, and just lay down. Once we got back, we got a big bowl for him to drink, and filled it with water.
When we were eating at Rockneyís for lunch, Joe and I were talking about my trip, and I had a thought. I said "One thing that I think I will have a better time with on this part of my trip, is that I think I will have an easier time talking with people who I meet." "I donít think I am as frightened of people as I was before." Joe said "I think that has a lot to do with being comfortable in your own skin." I said "I think thatís one of the advantages of getting olderÖ" "Joe said, That you donít give a shitÖ" we laughed.
Katie and I left late to go see the Chicago Cubs play the last game of the series with the Minnesota Twins. We got started late, because I was typing away in my journal and lost track of time. We were supposed to leave at 1:00PM, for the game starting at 1:20, but we didnít end up leaving until around 1:10. We walked first to the liquor store, not to get liquor, but for Katie to withdraw some money.
While she was doing that, I decided to call Dad for Fathers day. I got a nice little handís free earphone thingy, so I can talk without having my phone close to my ear. Itís nice, and I got it for a good price, I think it was Ĺ off the cost since I bought a phone. It was definitely necessary, because the phone I got has a fairly high SAR value. I think SAR stands for Systemic Affect Rating or something like that. It basically means the amount of radiation that the phone has while it is close to your ear. I think mine has a rating of 1.00 something, while the StarTac I had at work has a .04 or something in that area. Anyway, I called Dad, and told him I was on the way to Wrigley field to watch a Cubs game, and wished him a happy fathers day.
Dad mentioned that Lisa is reading a book that I bought for her for Christmas, and she liked it a lot. Itís funny. I donít even remember the book, but I guess when I read the jacket at the time, I thought it would be good for her. I was glad that she was reading it, and spending time doing things positive for herself.
We walked to the subway station, and missed the train by about 30 seconds. Then three trains came for the other direction while we were waiting for ours again. About 20 seconds after I got off the phone with my Dad, Pete called and started singing the National Anthem to me. As I mentioned earlier, he is a huge Cubís fan, and was watching the game back in Rochester. He said "Where are you?" I said "On the subway platform." "He responded "Your not at the game yet?" I said "We got a late start this morning." He told me "Youíd better get there, they are starting the game." "Allright, I am on my way." Then we hung up. I called him later in the 3rd or 4th inning when Sammy Sosa hit a home run out of the park. When he answered I said "Sammy SOSA!!" Ė He was at Markís Texas Hotís eating lunch, and wasnít watching the game. We talked about the score, and he asked me to get him something from the Stadium. I picked him up a "Bleacher Shirt". The writing on the back said "Shut up, and drink your beer." Ė I think it will fit.
The game was a lot of fun. The twins, were within 1 for 30% of the game. The cubs took an early lead, but managed to hold onto it the entire way. The highlight for me was in the 7th inning. I was still playing the "cup" game with the group we were sitting next to, and the woman in front of us to the left had the cup. There was probably 20 dollars or so in it. She was excited because Sammy was at bat. Sure enough, he hit one out of the park. It turns out later, that it was his 1000th home run, and I got to see it. The stadium was amazing. It felt like seeing a piece of history. Itís cool, because the stadium is in the middle of a neighboorhood, and there is really no place to park, except on the local streets. There is no big screen TV for the replayís and the score is still kept by hand on one of those old Metal boards. The grass was greener, and lusher than some fairwayís I have seen. I love how the bull penís are on the right and left side of the infield past the foul line in each direction. The coolest thing about the park was all the flags though. They lined the bleachers down the right and left field lines, and alternated red and blue colors, and waved saying the names of someone, and the year that there number was retired. It really made me feel sort of like I was in the movie "Field of dreams", when James Earl Jones said to Kevin Costner. "If there is one thing in life that has stood the test of time, itís Baseball Ray, Baseball."