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Monday, June 28: Monday morning I departed for Boston for the flawless, epic road trip. There was a storm system rolling in on the east coast, so both legs of the trip were delayed for a couple of hours.  While waiting at the gate at EWR, some old woman was getting irate at the gate attendant for the delay and demanded to know “just what kind of storm is causing the problem?”  The rep was a bit befuddled and answered “Ma’am, there’s major thunderstorms all up and down the east coast. You know, lots of lightning and wind gusts make things unsafe.”  She huffed, turned and went away.

I finally arrived at BOS around 8:30 in the evening. Jordan picked me up, we had dinner and crashed for the night.  It felt weird being back in Boston, a city I’ve been to a few times now and who knows if I’ll ever set foot there again.  No furniture was left at Fight Club house, so I was trying to get comfortable on the hardwood floor by laying on a pillow and my jacket in front of a box fan in front of an open window. This basically reminded me of laying in camp at Burning Man.

Tuesday, June 29: Right at 8:30 AM we hit the road. We decided to just follow I-90 the whole way.  This had the advantage in that I got to see upstate New York for the first time.  Driving across Massachusetts and New York (and most of the mid-west) was pretty uneventful. Lots of road, lots of trees, even more toll plazas, and endless 65 MPH speed limit. Niagara Falls was a mere 16 miles away from Buffalo, but this really wasn’t a sight seeing trip.

Before we got to Toledo, Jordan gave me a quick manual transmission lesson in a rest stop parking lot.  Of course the first thing I did was stall the engine a couple of times, but finally got the hang of it enough to take over driving.  We stopped for dinner at a random sane sounding restaurant in Toledo that came up on the Garmin StreetPilot, this sketchy sports bar-turned-BBQ place that had more televisions than patrons.  I was adoring the Ohio accent of our friendly okay-looking blonde waitress, Destiny. With a name and accent like that she sounded like a cliche 24/7 diner waitress from a movie, but was still too young to be jaded on life. Outside of the restaurant, I think Jordan had a little moment where he realized everything he owned was now sitting in the parking lot. I thought it’d be a really good idea to park on a truck stop scale to see just how much his life and trinkets weighed.

Wednesday, June 30: Sometime after midnight I pulled into a ghetto section of Chicago to get petrol.  People were loitering all over the place and some aggressive hag at the gas station sat down next to me as I pumped gas, wanting to know why I wouldn’t give her any money. She had a laugh at me when she walked away as the tank overfilled and sprayed out gasoline. Rolling onwards, 4 AM and the sun was rising over Wisconsin.  I was hoping to find a good place to take a sunrise picture, but it never presented itself.

Around 7 AM I crossed the Mississippi River.  I had now been up for 24 hours and was getting very drowsy. Jordan took over and I promptly passed out for a while. When we neared the South Dakota border, it made me smile to see the “Welcome to Minnesota” sign that I tagged back in April during the Austin-MN-Austin trip.

Up until South Dakota the lack of A/C had been fine.  As the day went on, it got sunnier and hotter.  The strong gusty wind didn’t help, it felt like we were being blasted by a blow dryer.  After many hours of rolling grasslands and many signs telling us the remaining distance we finally reached Wall Drug.  This is an interesting tourist trap, and after baking in the sun I see how their gimmick of free ice water to get people to stop really took off. Half the town seems to be devoted to the Wall empire.  In fact, take Jackson, WY, replace the high-end wares in all the endless tightly packed stores with tourist trinkets, put it under the ownership of one family, and you’ll sort of have Wall Drug. I saw a group of people in cycling gear and overheard them say they were cycling from Seattle to New York, which was amusing since we were driving the opposite.

I took over again after Rapid City, SD. We decided if we made it to Billings, MT that night we’d be making excellent progress. By Sheridan, WY I was getting sleepy again so we just crashed at the nearest hotel.

Thursday, July 1: The next morning I continued on into Montana. Montana was pretty, but there’s so much of it that goes on for hours and hours much like South Dakota.  We passed through a brief rain storm which made the plains prettier and cooled things off, the only time we saw rain until Washington.  We stopped in this little middle-of-nowhere town named Alberton to stretch out. Not much to it. Both ends of the town were exit ramps to I-90.  The city hall was a double-wide and they had a quaint little bakery.  The “farmer’s market” consisted of two pop-up canopies with one selling hot dogs and the other selling handmade necklaces. Some woman was there playing a harp.  Another guy was walking down the sidewalk from the promising local bar, beer in hand, dog following at his side.

Things started getting interesting in Idaho.  The mountains really opened up and the road got twistier. Chugging up one side of a mountain in third gear at 50 MPH, barreling down the other side at 83 MPH.  We finally hit Washington sometime around 8 PM, just six hours left!  By now both of us were equally tired and I traded off yet again. Jordan was a champ and finished the rest of Washington after downing coffee and a handful of snacks.  The state really does turn into desert nothing-land after Spokane. Passing over the Cascades at night in the rain made for good anticipation of death.  Are we going to skid out of control? Where does the road curve into? Oh no it’s all plunging downhill!

Friday, July 2: We finally arrived in Redmond on Friday morning around 1 AM. 3,108 miles and 48 hours of drive time. This is roughly the distance of my AUS-WY-AUS trip, just five hours longer. Clementine gave all she could, but her four cylinders barely carried us up the hills.  I wished I had taken more photos; there wasn’t that much that caught my eye (especially on the east coast) and for the rest I was either driving or asleep. Looking back at it four days later, I just don’t remember large swaths of the trips.  I know I was there, I know what parts I was awake for, but it’s all just a blur.

Driving stick wasn’t so bad.  I certainly had a few times where I somehow skipped a gear and had a couple of starts in 3rd gear.  I still cringed every time I let out the clutch when going into first gear, wondering if I’m doing it correctly or going to stall out. Other than that, I rather enjoyed it and could see myself owning an auto with a manual transmission if I had to.

The set of photos that I do have are up on the Flickr.

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