The beauty of a three-member travel group is that in voting on certain executive decisions, there can never be a tie vote. it's either 2-1 or 3-0, no matter what.
That said, we just put it to a vote, and with a 2-1 count (sorry, Joey) we have dropped Orlando from our route. Unless someone hands us three free passes to Epcot Center or Universal Studios, we're just not going to shell out the money.
We now have an extra day to re-allot. Look for things to get shaken up a bit in the hours to come.
In the interest of eating healthy, having hot meals, saving money, and traveling faster, we have determined that cooking and eating on the fly will be a necessary project on the trip. To that end, this morning I have completed a quick simple project to allow us to do just that.
Let me back up a little. Since my last post having to do with the design of the transportation module that my ‘01 Nissan Xterra will become, I have acquired a computer car tray. It attaches to the bolt of a car seat (right shot in below series) and has several adjustable pivot points with a tray on top. This workspace is primarily so that we can update this site, but it will also double as a cooking area. Also below are top and side views of the tray contraption.
In order to allow the Velcro straps to better secure the tray I marked and cut a few notches in the tray with my trusty serrated kitchen knife, pliers, and a nail file that Sarah provided.
After that it was just a matter of checking the notches to make sure no more work needed done and attaching the cigarette-lighter-powered pan (that’s right) to the tray with easily-removable electrical tape to keep it secure but still allow for removal and cleaning.
What do you think?
Lunch time. Thanks Sarah.
Yeah, it's early and everything, but we just watched the timer on the main page tick over to 100 days until departure. This is a milestone of some nature, as far as we're concerned - enough to warrant a celebratory beverage, at least.
In the meanwhile, Sarah posted her writeup of the Adirondacks, a day when we'll be exploring all the mountainy goodness of this fair region. Click here to have a look.
While Joey and Sarah copped out and made a trip to the bank or something (wasn't really listening), I used my new laptop's movie editing software, Windows Movie Maker, for the first time. I didn't go crazy with it, and it would sound better if it was set to some music. But whatever, it's a start.
That's Joey's goonish voice in the background. Mine is much more melodious.
It's 9:39 a.m. I just arrived at Joey and Sarah's house in Bensalem for an all-day session of planning, research and eating. They had a plate of eggs and corned beef waiting for me when I walked in the door about 15 minutes ago.
Today we have a lot of work to do. Sarah has already sent me some new content for our Where We're Going section, which I wil be posting in prompt fashion. Otherwise, it'll be intriguing to see how we spend the next twelve hours - at least for me. So I'll be providing live blogging coverage of today's activities.
Keep checking back today to see what we've done with our time, especially if you're at work today. We know you're not really working anyway.
“Yea, but, what’s the purpose, why do I want to sponsor you, do you see what I’m saying?” The woman at the print shop looks me right in the eye as I shift onto my left foot.
“Like what’s the gimmick?” I say as I steal a glance over at Joey.
“Yea, right, what’s the gimmick?” She goes on to tell me about Dianne Sawyer and the show she’s doing tonight dealing with children in Appalachia who drink a lot of Mt. Dew, “they have holes in their teeth, there’s nine teaspoons of sugar in Mt. Dew,” she tells me. I screw up my face thinking about how gross that image is. “So you could do something like that, like get signatures on a petition, something, you know?”
What’s the purpose? The print shop lady pressed us while we waited for 73 pages of our press kit cover letters to be printed. What are you doing this for? Why would you quit your jobs when so many American’s are desperate for jobs, and why are you driving around sight seeing, what’s the bigger purpose? What are you accomplishing?
I told her my parents had asked the same, that Joey’s dad and I had exchanged a few words on the topic, that anyone our age or older had said basically “yea, but why would you do that?” And maybe some of you America in 100 Days fans are wondering the exact same thing. How do you justify something which on the surface seems so self serving and almost wasteful in a way?
We have been feeding lines to our nay saying public: we’re young, we don’t have kids or mortgage payments; we’re at a point in our careers where it makes sense to take a break and see where we can move on to move up. But at this tumultuous time in American history, what is our bigger purpose here? The print shop lady got me thinking…
President Obama spoke last night in Springfield, IL commemorating Lincoln’s birthday. He spoke about the divisions in America today, about how we need to work as one nation if we want to be the nation that leads in this historic time and through the next century. As I lay in bed sleepily listening to his speech I thought about how our trip will give us a unique insight into our country. This vast land is so huge that one state barely knows its neighbors let alone the other side of the country. As we travel through every state in the contiguous U.S. I believe the values I hold will be tested, the opinions I have will be challenged but overall I will see first hand what this country is all about and why I am proud to live here and love this nation. Obama is right, now more than ever we need to have a strong unified voice. We need to move boldly forward and shake off the misery we are living in now.
As we travel around this summer I think our bigger purpose will be to show Americans through our blogging and videos why America is the land they love. That even in the toughest of times, even through the hardest of moments we are one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all. America is beautiful and it is the home of the free and the brave.
Joey, Sarah and I have spend endless amounts of time working to bring you proper coverage of our planning stages, and laying the groundwork for a phenomenal road trip. But we can't claim all the credit for the site as it is today. There are a few key people who are contributing to America in 100 Days, and I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge them.
Joe and Ian Jansen. Joe is a man whose travel bug bite is a very large one. Not long ago, Joe got his hands on a 21-ft. Pleasure Way Plateau-TS Sprinter, which may very well be the coolest RV I've ever seen in my life - with a bed, TV, shower, stove, and every other damn thing thing that makes me super jealous about it. Joe is also an amateur photographer, snapping some of the most fantastic images I've ever seen during his adventures on the road. And we have Joe to thank for images in our writeups for Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Buffalo, as well as many more to come. You can view more of his photos on his Webshots profile.
Ian, Joe's son and my proud roommate for the last year and a half, is a musical whiz, whose escapades with GarageBand have entertained me and many others on plenty of occasions in the past. Ian is putting together a little ditty for our videos, when the time comes for us to begin posting them. We're all very eager to hear what he's got in store.
Eric Perinotti. Eric is a fraternity brother of Joey's from our days at Susquehanna University, and currently works in the art production department of New York Magazine. Aside from being a monster on the guitar, as pictured here, Eric is also a whiz with a computer. He's the man responsible for the all-too-familiar America in 100 Days logo that appears in the upper right hand corner of our home page. Eric was nice enough to do this for us without charging any money, either. All in all, a stand-up guy whose talents we appreciate greatly.
Tom McCarthy. Tommy here is a freshman at Penn State, a man whose technological flair goes a few years into my past, when he fixed a virus-riddled PC for me at the bargain price of $10. Since then, Tommy has advised me on a number of ways to increase traffic and readership here at America in 100 Days. And most recently, he's posted a clever link to our site on his own site, which you can see here. Chances are, we'll be requesting his services a few times here and there.
Bear in mind, we still have 103 days until we leave. We still have all kinds of research to do about every city on our itinerary - and we highly encourage your feedback. And once we're on the road, we're going to need all the help along the way that we can get. But kudos to these four fellows, whose efforts are ever so greatly appreciated.
If you noticed a scarcity of new content on America in 100 Days over the past few days, then you must be a regular reader, and for that I applaud you, my friend. But there's a good reason behind it, a good, rejuvenating reason.
About three and a half weeks ago, I went out to Micro Center in St. Davids and purchased myself a gorgeous new laptop, a Gateway M-Book with plenty of space and speed. It had essentially everything I'd need for proper documentation of our lengthy vacation this summer. And very notably, I payed an extra $150 for a three-year warranty.
And a week ago, it crapped out. It went from functioning perfectly at my lovely girlfriend Bernadette's house, to no longer reading wireless signals after a three-minute drive to my house. After some unsuccessful tinkering and toiling, I brought it back to Micro Center to let them work their magic on it.
A few days went by, and eventually I got a call from the store's service department. They told me that they'd looked thing over, done their own tinkering and toiling, and were forced to send it back to Gateway's own repair center. They also told me they didn't know how long it would be before the issue was resolved.
Well, frankly, this was not going to fly for me. Our departure date is approaching rapidly, and I have plenty more work to do on this site of ours before we're ready for liftoff. There's really no time to waste, and no reason I should be at the mercy of a giant computer company whose products are assembled in China, and repaired... who knows.
So today I shuffled my way back through the dors at Micro Center and explained my situation to a store associate named Manny. I offered the possibility of using a "loaner" laptop until I had mine back, a service they apparently don't offer. Receipt in hand, I raised the spectre of a refund, but Manny explained that notebook computers can only be refunded within seven days of purchase.
Last ditch. I asked Manny if there was anything he could do to help my situation. anything at all. He spoke to his manager, and twenty minutes later, I was presented with a brand new copy of the exact same laptop, straight out of the box, just as mine had been only weeks ago.
Hats off to Manny, and to Micro Center for being reasonable. While I have to reinstall all my stuff, including some software that offers a limited number of installs, I don't have to wait any longer to get back to work. And while this computer might be just as liable to crap out as the last one was, it'll still be covered by the same warranty.
So with this chapter out of the way, it's back to work for me. There's nothing I'd rather be doing.
My fingers feel around the edges of a small package wrapped in balloon printed birthday paper. It feels like three homemade CD’s stacked on top of one another. My dad sits back in the wooden dining room chair and mom watches with a smile. I open it, impatiently ripping through the tape on the back.
Intro to the Blues Volume 1-3.
I read the play lists: Robert Johnson, Fresh Cream, Janis Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Lee Hooker, Ray Charles, The Allman Brothers Band, Muddy Waters, Dr. John, Bonnie Rate, Howlin’ Wolf… I look over at my dad, a stupefied smile creeping across my face.
“This is just to get you started.”
“Dad spent hours on those for you,” mom says.
“Yea. Yea, this looks awesome, thank you.”
Dad leans over and starts explaining his reasoning, this one is real blues, and this is an artist he listened to in college, and then there’s the old rule: how do you know if it’s a blues song? It has the word blues in the title. So there are a few of those courtesy of Joplin and the Allman Brothers.
My ride back to school is six lonely hours, but I pop in Volume 1 and the steady rhythm rolls, the guitar wails, and the voices pour pure soul into my ears. I fell in love with the music, devouring each song, listening to each CD over and over.
Not to say I know all there is to know. Not to say I know anything. But I know I like it. I love that sound, the rhythm, the way each singer sings the same song totally different. You make the blues what it is, so it is a part of you which, I think, is why it’s so damn good.
Tom called today to point out the comment on his last post. Don’t miss Route 61, The Blues Highway. Look it up on Wikipedia he tells me, write a blog for this one.
The history of the road is incredible. I thought Route 66 was going to blow my mind, but wait until you hear about this:
First there’s Robert Johnson:
“The junction of Highway 61 and Highway 49 in Clarksdale is designated as the famous crossroads where, according to legend, Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for mastery of the blues” (Wikipedia article, “U.S. Route 61,” 02/06/09 www.wikipedia.org).
Eric Clapton once said that there was a time when he would not talk to a person who did not know of Robert Johnson. A statement like that really makes you think twice about what you know and what you should look into knowing.
Robert Johnson was the father of the Blues, and the first member of the Forever 27 Club. Short lived though his career may have been, his songs are staples in the blues genre.
He is rumered to have sold his soul to the devil in order to play as well as he was able to. I guess we might find out about that first hand if we’re lucky.
Then there’s Jimmy Swaggart:
“On Airline Highway [Rte. 61] in Jefferson Parish in 1987, Baton Rouge televangelist Jimmy Swaggart was confronted by rival preacher Marvin Gorman as Swaggart exited a motel with a prostitute. This incident increased the area's reputation as a locale of 'seedy motels'” (Wikipedia article, “U.S. Route 61,” 02/06/09 www.wikipedia.org).
The really funny part about Swaggart is that he blew up the spot of a rival minister who was having an affair with someone’s wife. That came back to bite him in the ass now didn’t it? Old Jimmy was caught twice with hookers on this very road. Hopefully that won’t be a problem for anyone who is not Jimmy Swaggart…
A sobering bit of history right off of this road is that of the assisination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The famous picture of the men pointing towards where the shots rang out is from a motel right off the road we will be driving along.
Now this is the best part, I think:
“Dylan himself commented, ‘I'm not gonna be able to make a record better than that one... Highway 61 is just too good. There's a lot of stuff on there that I would listen to.’
“It [Rte. 61] was regularly featured in blues songs, notably Mississippi Fred McDowell's "61 Highway" and James "Son" Thomas's "Highway 61." Bessie Smith met her death in an automobile accident on that roadway; Robert Johnson was said to have sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads of Highway 61 and Highway 49 (itself the subject of a Howlin' Wolf song); Elvis Presley grew up in the housing projects built along it; and Martin Luther King, Jr. would later be murdered at a motel just off Highway 61.
“’A lot of great basic American culture came right up that highway and up that river", Robert Shelton told a BBC interviewer. "And as a teenager Dylan had travelled that way on radio. ... Highway 61 became, I think, to him a symbol of freedom, a symbol of movement, a symbol of independence and a chance to get away from a life he didn't want in Hibbing.’” (Wikipedia article, “U.S. Route 61” 02/06/09 www.wikipedia.org).
This road is a hotbed of culture and history and I can’t wait to get out on it; to feel the wind blowing through my hair, put on some of those Delta Blues, and think about the events that happened here as we bomb down Highway 61 on the most amazing trip of our lives.
Photo by US71 courtesy Flickr.com