“OK. Guys. Look at this,” Tom’s eyes are almost stern behind his glasses. “We’re going through every state in the contiguous U.S except Michigan” his expression is screaming do you see what I’m getting at??
Should we write them an apology, I think, fleetingly.
“Yeah,” Joey says, hands across his stomach, comfortably sunken into the couch, “add it, what the hell?”
“OK.” Tom’s fingers fly across the key board and I turn to my own computer to let my eyes trace the blue line maze that will be our route in a few months.
Oh, yeah, I think, just add it.
This trip is unstoppable. It’s like a snowball rolling down a hill, and Joey, Tom and I are the three little kids who run behind it breathless and giggling to kick it when it gets stuck.
At first- in the early planning days of last year- this trip was a playful thirty day jaunt out to Portland in the summer months. Once there we would regain our grip on adulthood and get back to real life. Shortly, however, after the original conception of this trip, someone said: why not make it 100 days?
Oh no, I had said to myself, my parents voices coming through my own, we can’t do that. That would be too much. How would we get jobs? What would we do about money? Isn’t that a bit irresponsible? A thirty day trip is plenty, isn’t it?
But no! Skepticism is for the weak minded and the unadventurous! Rapidly through our planning sessions and over emails we have expanded this trip from a mere thirty days and a few key states, to a larger and still larger route including more and more space across the nation. Our tires will be nipping the corners of some states but as Tom said, “we can stop at a rest area; that counts.”
Just three days ago, Joey sat in our main room toiling away at a new version of the map so we could update the website with our newest route. The very next day as I sat in my cubicle ticking away at my work an email popped up from him:
“So, anyone think we should close out highway one by going north through Washington and then coming back south to Portland. Seattle is supposed to be nice.”
You just finished that map though, I had thought. I clicked ‘reply’ and begin thoughtfully composing an email asking how many days we have allotted to what and saying that I’m in if we can fit Seattle without compromising anything else, and so on.
Tom replied before I finished my response so I opened his email.
“Fine;” nonchalant and direct, typical Tom.
I look over my wordy response. Yeah, that sums it up, I let my fingers float above the backspace button, but decide whatever, and hit send.
We may seem blaze over our additions, but believe me when I say the passion behind this trip is unquenchable. Now, with our final decision to stop in every single U.S state on the North American continent, I can’t in my wildest dreams imagine any further additions.
But, then again, what are boys good for if not for keeping a girl on her toes?
I've just learned some terrifying, stomach-churning news, to which I just don't know how to react. In the 100 days and who knows how many different cities we'll be cruising through and around this summer, we won't be crossing paths with the Phillies a single time. Not once.
Oh, we come close a few times - we miss them playing the Mets in New York by a few days, just as we do when they play the Rays and Braves on the road. Literally, two days off of a Braves-Phils game in hostile territory. But alas, it's not to be.
This simply means that as we gallavant from town to town, my choice of drinking establishments will be that much more heavily based on, "Do you have the Phils on TV?"
But on the brighter side, our visit to Boston just happens to coincide with a visit to town by the New York Yankees. That, my friends, will be a sight to see.
Not bad, eh?
Copyright © and (P) 1988–2008 Microsoft Corporation and/or its suppliers. All rights reserved. http://www.microsoft.com/streets/ © Certain mapping and direction data © 2008 NAVTEQ. All rights reserved.
Hey. Does anyone know of good mapping software? It needs to be able to handle over eighty consecutive waypoints. Google maps can list 25, but to get the map without all of those green letter markers everywhere, I had to locate each destination individually and “drag” the route over it, using the “change route functionality instead of the “add destination” functionality. Then I had to Photoshop all of the partial maps together. It was tedious when we designed the original map, but with all the new stops, it will be even less of a fun project. Any suggestions are appreciated! I will update with my solution and new maps.
Update: As you can see above, I found Microsoft Streets and trips to be useful. I am still deciding if I like the look.
Ahh, Saturday night. It's amazing how differently I look at this weekly occasion nowadays, as opposed to two years ago, when I was still in college. Back then, I'd be wrapping up a week's worth of drudging through classes and drinking way too much at night, and come Saturday I'd no doubt be preparing for more of the same, minus the classes.
Tonight, I finished work an hour ago, and I'm at home on my couch by myself. My socks are off, my laptop is plugged into the wall and Pandora is blissfully feeding my ears. And I'll be damned if I move from this spot tonight.
That aside, I thought I'd bring your attention to our Where We're Going page. Not to beat a dead horse or anything, because I know I've taken the time to wave the flag about this section in the past. But this is completely different.
As of about 12:30 a.m. today, that section is no longer a long, one-page compendium of where we'll be travelling, city by city. Now, it's a list of where we're going, city by city, with links to the city's individual America in 100 Days writeup by yours truly. And to boot, the index now includes the dates of our tentative visits next to the city/destination name.
It's all in the interest of saving time for you, our precious readers and subscribers. And I hope you find it to be just that, time-saving, because it took up an inordinately large amount of my time last night and early this morning. For all the effort it took, I hope you'll check it out and consider it your good deed for the week.
I calmly blink back the stinging threat of tears. I can feel my eyes slowly growing watery to the point of almost brimming over so I let them roll back in my head in an effort to reel the moisture back behind my eyeballs to hide my momentary weakness from my coworkers.
When I saw the email this morning in my in- box I knew it would tug on my heart strings—I scrolled to the bottom and first saw two lines from a familiar song; “May the good lord be with you down every path you roam. And may sunshine and happiness be with you when you're all alone,” the rarely used sign off; “daddy,” and further up the page the long list of tough questions followed by tender apologies and professions of fatherly love and concern.
I breathe in stiffly and blow out a mouthful of hot air. My coworker, Kurt, peers at me over our shared cubicle wall, but I act like I don’t notice. I pull up my Siebel on-line phone system and click “sign in”. One more time I breathe deeply in and out very much in control now and click “ready”.
BEEP- my phone gives me a jolting alert- my recorded sing-songy voice recites: “Customer accounting, Sarah Lovelace, how can I help you?”
The shrill voice that comes through next rockets into my ear drum and makes me jump again.
“Hi Sherry, how are ya,” I say as I turn the volume down on my ear piece.
Sherry rattles off an account number and a problem and I ask a few follow up questions when she’s done explaining her quandary; “you mean the $0.36 from the 16th,” “and the request is this one here, the one that was rejected,” and so on until I am stumped and have no other questions to follow her question, and more importantly, no answers.
“Ok, Sherry,” I say, “can I put you on a really quick hold? I’m going to go check on that for you.”
I push “hold” on my Siebel and sit back for a minute thinking about who I can check on what with.
I need a “hold” and a “ready” button in real life. I’m not so good at those two functions; “hold” and “ready.”
The email from my dad sits waiting for a second look at the top of my in-box until late in the afternoon. The phones are busy, the market is down, our service levels are slipping with each half hour update email. But still the note patiently waits at the top of the list.
I scroll the mouse over the subject line “Hey, Sweetie!” and click.
A quick read once again through the message and I find myself mentally demanding tears to hold their fire, though it’s less of a threat this time. Blinking slowly and gently itching my nose, I look over the list of questions one more time:
In a nutshell; “How do I work it so that my life is shaped by who I am, instead of who I am being shaped by my life?”
I scroll up to read the two paragraphs above the questions:
“I think you know that I've looked for the good side of your trip from the beginning and I've felt all along that there was a definite good side. I thought of the perspective to be gained by taking time to paddle around in some interesting brooks before the river of your life pulls you into its mainstream. But yesterday you turned it, in my thoughts, from an educational interlude to a transformative adventure; from a stolen moment to enjoy before you have to grow up, to a moment focused on incubating your best self.
“As you know, the journey is a pervasive metaphor in literature: a metaphor for change and growth, for overcoming obstacles, for learning - about new worlds, but more importantly, about your self; a metaphor for life. This journey can be the first days of the rest of your life. But only if you study the journey, and your self. Study not as an academic, not by standing outside the experience and trying to shape it into your preconceived ideas; study it by living it, feeling it, drinking it into your life's blood and letting it shape you; study it by expressing it; study it by letting it challenge who you think you are.”
I lean far back in my chair and let my eyes wander into that space between here and nowhere. My father’s words melt into place around me and I turn them slowly considering each.
I think, for this entry, just his words alone are enough. I think my response for the moment will be rushed and cliché, so to let this mellow and settle in my mind will someday create a more informed, more satisfying answer to the questions posed by this wise man, my father. A charge still to be met, but for the moment I stay in my contemplative space and look to the button on my Siebel, steady and bold, which reads: Ready.
Today’s a big day. Yesterday was a big day for our country, but today is particularly big for me. Today I bought my first laptop, a sweet Gateway computer with all sorts of trimmings. 3 GB RAM, 2.2 GHz, 160 GM of hard drive space, as well as a webcam, movie editor and 3-year warranty. Ain’t nothing gonna happen to my baby. I’d like to extend a special thank you to my dad, Paul Stanley, for helping me to purchase this wonderful piece of technology. If you see him on his mail route, for god’s sake, leave him alone, but wish him thank you in your thoughts.
This will be making a big difference in the amount of fresh content you’ll be seeing in the coming weeks and months here on America in 100 Days. Until today, every one of my posts on the site have been from someone else’s computer, due mostly to the inevitable crash of my desktop computer, which was purchased for me at the beginning of college by (who else?) my dad. He’s a man who knows a good investment, and I salute him for it.
Now that I have my little excalibur here, I’ll have plenty more smaller opportunities to pop up posts and build on the ever-growing Where We’re Going section. It’ll help me keep organized, allow me to make cool add-ons like the image above, and all in all, make me a much happier writer and traveler.
So get pumped. Plenty more from the three of us on the way.
As far as we're concerned, we've come up with a pretty stellar plan here at America in 100 Days. We're taking the vacation of a lifetime, seeing so much of what America has to offer, and doing it during what we believe to be the most optimal time of year - the warm months of summer.
But unfortunately, in lining up our route across America, we've eliminated any chance of our attendance at certain events across the country. Worse yet, some of them are almost workable, but just slightly out of our reach. Here are a few that won't be finding their way onto our agenda due to their (or our) inopportune timing, but are certainly worthy of everyone else's attention.
Gratefulfest. This festival, which I've mentioned a few times before here, is a glorious gathering of happy families, vacationers and music lovers in the depths of northern Ohio. Nelson Ledges Quarry Park, in Garrettsville is home to this fastastic annual event, for which I've been in attendance twice, in 2006 and 2007. Back then, the festival was held over the Fourth of July, but this past year saw it moved to Labor Day weekend. Both dates fall away from our reach, and this makes Sarah especially upset, as she has never seen these beautiful grounds or the fantastic people that occupy them during Gratefulfest. And this year, she still won't.
Gathering of the Vibes. This is a music festival of a similar ilk as is Gratefulfest, a collection of nature lovers and other such free spirited folk joined together for the purpose of listening to fantastic music in a live, natural setting. This is one of the big ones, with past acts including, but not limited to, Phil Lesh & Friends, the Neville Brothers, Umphrey's McGee and more.
Unfortunately, this festival occurs way back in Bridgeport, Ct., at nearly the exact same time as we're enjoying our faces off at the 10,000 Lakes Festival. But hopefully there will be more opportunities in the future.
Burning Man. We though for a moment that we'd be able to catch some of this unusual utopia in the deserts of Nevada, in a small community called Black Rock City that becomes the third-largest city in the state while the festival is in action. This is not a hippie festival, a jam band festival, or anything from that cut of meat whatsoever. This is the most eclectic convergence of people and artistic work and behavior in the entire country, a wild, glorious communal expression of self in mind and body.
Alas, the festival occus during the week of August 31-September 7, which as I've mentioned is the final week of our 100-day excursion. I will not be there to shed my clothes and howl at the moon... at least, not this year.
The Price is Right. This was one of those shows that stood by, watching wisely and stoically like an old owl as I grappled my way through childhood, adolescence and even today in my young adulthood. Bob Barker was always the grandfather of television game shows, constantly reminding us that the pet population was not to be ignored.
Nowadays, Drew Carey has taken over in Bob's retirement, and it remains the same entertaining show that it used to be, bringing up members of the audience as contestants on what seems to be the basis of, "Who has the most eye-catching shirt on?"
And this show films in Los Angeles, and fairly frequently, at that. But sadly, they will be on a brief production break during our swing through the area, and Joey and Sarah won't stand for waiting around. I'm with them, reluctantly.
The Colbert Report. You might be thinking, hold on a minute, Tom. Don't you live just two hours from New York, where the Colbert Report is taped four times per week? Didn't you just see a filming of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart a few months ago?
Yes, and yes. Both are true. But due to the sheer awesomeness of Mr. Colbert's show, it is practically impossible to get tickets. They're free, and they're distributed online, which means even yours truly could theoretically have a chance at snagging a cluster of seats. But they are sold out, and continue to disappear the instant they're put online for availability.
With a mission as patriotic as that which I and my companions have adopted, I believe it is within the realm of Mr. Colbert's own patriotic duty to see to it that his show becomes a part of our visit to the Big Apple. And I'll be sure to notify you if he feels the same way.
(From top) Photo courtesy nlqp.com; photo by gabi+kyle courtesy flickr.com; photo by Caroline Miller courtesy burningman.com; photo courtesy flickr.com; image courtesy flickr.com.
I know you’re my biggest fan, so I hope that you didn’t chance upon this site lately. We posted a list of destinations without Williamsport, PA on it. I appreciate all you have done and continue to do for me throughout my life, you are awesome in countless ways, and we were busy listing iconic cities and… well… while I refuse to lay any blame, I guess what it comes down to is that it is mostly Tom’s fault.
Anyway, it is not going to stand. We are going to swing up there for a bit after Philadelphia or Pittsburgh to say hello, depending on how everything else falls into place. I can’t wait to see you then. And to make up for the oversight on our (Tom’s) part, I have decided to honor you in front of all of our Americain100days fans by posting a picture of you and your six point with the insides on the outside.
In perusing over our schedule, the more astute of you may have paused about halfway down the list and raised an eyebrow. We're spending just three days in New Orleans, two in Chicago, only one day in Miami... so what's so special about Detroit Lakes, MN that would lead us to spend five days and four nights here?
Ahh, a logo speaks a thousand words.
Yes, my friends, we've come to the decision that it's high time to schedule ourselves into a festival - a task that, as I've mentioned before, seems somewhat precarious if we're going to stick to a schedule or some semblance of one. But through some miraculous stroke of fortune, we're finding ourselves right around the Detroit Lakes, Mn. vicinity at just the right time. So we've agreed to take a little vacation within our summer-long vacation for some festival-going.
This annual festival, now in its seventh year, is put on in the quiet town of Detroit Lakes, on more than 600 acres of land and water known as the Soo Pass Ranch. Detroit Lakes is no metropolis by any stretch of the imagination, home to just over 8,000 residents during the non-summer months. But then July rolls around, and this festival brings thousands of happy hippies and their families cartwheeling into town.
As of this very early stage in the game, the lineup for the event has not yet been announced. But I have no doubts as to the caliber of the performers that will be on hand, based on the list of performers from last year's 10KLF. Among them were musical magicians such as Phil Lesh & Friends, the Mickey Hart Band, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, and Dark Star Orchestra, to name a few. And all the while, the music comes to us from four, count 'em, four separate stages, with performers strategically placed on the basis of their following.
I haven't personally been fortunate enough to attend any gatherings such as this since summer 2007, when I made my last trip for Gratefulfest, at Nelson Ledges Quarry Park in Garrettsville, Oh. I've missed the festival vibe quite a bit since then, for more than the experiences of camping out, eating from a cooler and savoring my time on the beautiful grounds.
It's the people. For a large portion of those in attendance, the 10,000 Lakes Festival will be their one and only summer vacation. And to spend that vacation among this spectacular scenery, with beautiful music and swarms of like-minded individuals on hand, is all that many people could ask for. Everyone is just so happy at festivals, so thrilled to be there with anyone and everyone around.
So put us down with a check mark - we'll be there with smiles on, and we'll even be expecting a mid-trip visit from my lovely girlfriend, Bernadette. And we highly encourage some more company from our friends. Take a gander at this video for a deeper look.
All images courtesy 10,000 Lakes Festival and Musical Earth