Sedalia, is this part of Missouri the Midwest? Rural? Bible Belt?
2:00 AM, Wi-Fi hunt. 4:57, download ended, allowingg me to move to a less conspicuous location. Just down from the Starbucks was a Wal-Mart, and it had gas pumps! Grrr.. I had wasted 30 cents at the station down the street!
Dreams of outright hostility, e-mail, get a life.
Around 7:10, possibly feeling better. Started raining overnight, blah for my Moline reshoot and Davenport photo, but hopefully by the time I reached Dubuque the sky would be clear.
La Fuente, less than mediocre burrito.
Dinner with Bill and Erin, reset odor meter, indie coffee shop.
6:56--so much for getting on my way before 6:00 AM to beat the traffic. At least I was out of the immediate Chicagoland area, though--the radio was reporting heavy traffic
Before I headed south, I went into the Wal-Mart for a box of Nyquill tablets, the cheaper fake kind this time. As I walked towards the registers, a blonde rounded one of the aisles and looked like she was also heading towards a register, so I quickened my pace. Suddenly, a sharp pain in my left knee. Very brief, but still irritating, that my body was aging so, in violation of the "arrangement" I had made. At the register I noticed a brown-to-red-skinned pock-faced man. I wasn't sure if he was Native American, Indian, or Latino, but I thought I saw hints of Richard Alpert in his face, and maybe a little Troy McClure too.
7:09, from the Wal-Mart I drove south back to the St. John store, technically away from the Chicagoland metro area, and traffic was pretty heavy anyway. But not as heavy as on US-41 northbound--thank heavens for small favors, that I was heading outbbound, at least until I reached Crown Point.
Holy cow!!! I had left my batteries at the St. John's store. Fortunately they had saved them for me.
Twelve Islands, okay biscuit, good bacon.
Still congested, getting worse?
2:51, intense drowsiness, why???
Drove through Bloomington looking for food, La Bamba, bighead
There's a Transylvania, Louisiana???
As I left the University & Main store a dark-skinned man, maybe late 20s, approached my car, and when I stopped, leaned in close and said in a low voice, "Can I get a jump start please." I quickly told him I was in hurry, which was true, because the sun was setting and I hoped to get to Peru while there was still light, but I also got a bad vibe from the guy. I had given many jumpstarts bebfore, and each time, the driver had been standing next to or near his car, hazard lights on, and not one of them had leaned in and whispered--they had just shouted from whereever they were standing. I didn't see this guy's car anywhere.
Wow, the lengths the Cabal will go to to throw me off my game!!! It took me many months, but I finally discovered that the outstanding store in Vermont is not a new store, but rather a renaming, and a weird renaming--they simply added a period to the name. What's the point of that, if not to throw me off? Had I not been running behind back in Fberuary on the way to Montreal, I would have detoured 100 miles, burning time and gas, to visit that store that I had already visited. That Cabal is sneaky!!!
Good thing for my map and database, because if I had to rely on my memory, I would have headed straight to Dubuque from Peru and missed out on the new Davenport store. Stopped in Moline, where the older Starbucks was conveniently located in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, so it was easy to pick up the signal and download Heroes and 24.
At 5:40 I could see a hint of the sun starting to rise over the low clouds, but I was still congested and feeling considerable pressure in my head and decided that sleep was more important. Didn't get up until 7:18, a little disappointed for the light I had lost, but I tried to make up for by hurrying. Then I noticed that the sky was, if not overcast, a lot more cloudy than Saturday, and I grumbled.
Annoyingly foiled in Naperville. I was on my way out the door when a customer who had overheard my spiel to the manager took an interest and had questions about my project and film. She was about to buy a DVD, was trying to see if she had $20, when the manager came over and (politely) said "I can't have you selling [things] in the store." I replied that I had specifically not solicited the sale, that the customer had called me over as I was leaving. The manager responded that I didn't have to leave, but I couldn't sell anything in the store. And you know, when I had explained my project to the manager and given her the flyer, I had sensed something in her smile that hinted of disapproval. See, I'm not totally inept at reading people like the usual autistic geek. What bugged me most is that the store had plenty of customers at the registers waiting on drinks, and the manager went out of her way to stifle my sale. Also, that Starbucks allows people to conduct all sorts of business--job interviews, using the store as an office. I've not doubt that a land deal or two has been negotiated in Starbucks. So why should they care if somebody wants to buy my movie inside the store as long as I'm not explicitly soliciting it to customers (which would be disturbing them--I can understand that).
11:00 AM, sky still hazy. Some sunlight pushing through as the sun rose higher in the sky. Comic book break at Borders to give the sun more time.
Starbucks threw me one of the biggest curveballs yet in the form of a slew of new listings for Starbucks in Macy's. There is one at the Macy's in Bolingbrook, and also one outside the Macy's. At both locations I was told that the Macy's one is licensed. Ordinarily that would have been enough for me, but the twist was that there had been several Starbucks in Macy's in NYC and New Jersey for many years, and those locations are definitely company-owned. Or, at least, they were. I would have to confirm that had not been sold off to Macy's. Oy!!!
Cute name--"my secret hair salon", in Lemont, IL.
1:00, sun finally broke through clouds.
Along Route 171 in Joliet, right by what appeared to be a prison, old style, with stone walls and castle-like towers. As I continued on towards the new store, I drove right through the heart of Joliet, and it was a sharp constrast to the suburbs I had been seeing the past few days. Distinctively older-looking and more worn down, and certainly a world more interesting than the burbs.
2:51, feeling sluggish.
3:18, extremely sleepy, not sure why.
strange call ahead
With the sun fast setting, my stomach was a-grumbling, and I was lured into Jalapeno's by the sign advertising 1/2-priced burritos on Sundays. Well, it took the bartender forever to take my order, then forever for my order to be prepared, by which time the sun had completely disappeared. On top of that, I didn't even get through the burrito before I started to feel ill--a headache started out of the blue. I truly feared food poisoning, and after I left the Starbucks I headed up to the Wal-Mart (not a Supercenter) hoping it would be 24 hrs in case I had an emergency "need" that a cup couldn't fulfill.
Besides making me feel ill, I think the burrito was an alien creature with mind-control powers. When I entered the store and proceeded to the bathroom, I passed the supervisor, and I had an unusual and sudden urge to embrace her. She was reasonably attractive, if a little heavy, but this was not the usual Rob Schneider "The Animal" hump urge that often comes over me, but rather a need for a long nurturing embrace. Clearly, it had to be the alien burrito controlling my mind. A few minutes later, as I gave my spiel and chatted about my project, I had to force myself to leave the store as soon as possible before the burrito's mind waves took over me.
7:19, and I really wanted to sleep more to help recovery from whatever cold/flu I had developed, but the good light was fast disappearing. The fake Benadryl plus the real Nyquill were still in my system--my nose and throat felt very dry. I'd just have to push thru the pressure in my head and take as many photos as I could before taking a break.
By 8:20 the sun already seemed high enough in the sky to start washing out some colors, depending on how it hit the building, and I regretted the hour of light between 6:30 and 7:30 that I had missed because of stupid unexpected congestion.
Experienced the geographical disorientation again. The Starbucks at Lake & Harlem is in the same parking lot as a Whole Foods, and when I entered its bathroom I noticed it looked different than many I had seen. The one that I visualized was in Philadelphia, and when I tried to mentally compare cities, Philly to X, it took me several seconds to remember that I was in Chicago (Oak Park, technically).
Oooookay. Standing at a traffic light stirring my yogurt when, out of blue, the (rather large) dog in the pickup next to me starts barking. I'm, like, "what the hell!" I started to wonder if the dog could actually manage to jumpt through the partially open window when the driver quickly pulled the dog back and closed the window a little more, like he wasn't entirely sure whehter the dog would jump or not.
Of all the things that cost me time during the trip, this one was one of the strangest. Somehow I managed to no notice the warning dialog and deleted the Date column from my financial database. I needed those dates for my personal records as well as my project statistics, so losing them was a pain. But recoverable. I had a backup from 5 days earlier, and I had the data since then, without dates. Thankfully the records were grouped together by date anyway, and I was able to reconstruct what I had lost without losing too much time.
In Des Plaines I received an enthusiastic reception in the form of a barista who positively shrieked, "It's you!!!" Then she and several rushed to the back to retrieve their cameras, and I ended up feeling like a movie star at the Oscars.
For the second time, out to De Kalb and back--hoped I didn't have to make that round trip every year. A barista recommended Eduardo's for a burrito, but the restaurant was more frou-frou than authentic, and too pricy--I ain't paying no ten bucks for a freakin' burrito, man! So despite having eaten very little, I managed to get by for the rest of the day on just a PowerBar--strange--and called it a night early in Naperville.
Around 1:00 I saw bright lights, like those of a car parked a few hundred feet behind mine. Not unusual when the bars near closing, but these lights persisted. I avoided moving too much, and I slowly peeked my head up and saw light bars on the vehicle. I debated whether he was interested in me--typically, they did not park that far away, so it could have simply been that he had pulled over driver who had already driven off. After a while, I saw the lights moving off, and I was able to hop into my front seat. I checked on my download, and it appeared to be stuck at 84%, so I figured I might as well find someplace else, and I ended up in the Jewel-Osco lot. While there, I got a mad craving for food, which made complete sense since I had skipped dinner and only eaten yogurt, apple, banana, pizza slice, and PowerBar all day.
6:29, the sun visible through some trees and some haze and/or light clouds, and I felt some pressure in my head. Congestion, but also the beginnings of withdrawl. Definitely could have slept more, too, but it was way past time to get my body used to getting up earlier to take advantage of that morning sun.
Oh, those wacky Canadian... GEESE!!! Holding up Chicagoland traffic, as bad as it already is. I couldn't help but laugh as I saw the line of cars stopped for the geese in my rearview mirror.
Only visited a few stores in the morning before heading down to the city to meet my cousin Raul and go for Colombian food. Afterwards I had a chance to shower and felt greatly refreshed. The temperature in Chicago was actually cooler than it had been in Wisconsin, but the warmer temperatures I had seen in Wisconsin and Minnesota had ripened me at a faster rate.
Dang, I passed right in front of the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. I really wanted to go, but I was too far behind to spend hours in a museum. Once again, it would have to wait.
Holy mochazolli!!! With quite a strong wind, the weather took what seemed like quite a turn for the chilly for mid-May. Not that I minded--I'd stay fresher longer.
Decided to stealth North Riverside Park Mall after the barista who I asked about the closest entrance in turn asked who I was. A very unusual reponse, typically indicative of a barista who has a tendency towards suspicion. When I entered the mall, I had an idea of why, as it was clearly a ghetto mall, packed with patrons who appeared to be of the economically underprivileged variety, many wearing what might have been gang attire, and packed also with very serious-looking security guards. One of these guards was standing on the upper level looking out over the balcony, and right over the Starbucks. Truouble, I thought.
I waited in line, and when I got to the front, I perceived what seemed an unwelcome reception from a female barista cleaning some equipment. Rather than walking up to the register and asking what she could get for me, she just stood there and said something like "Do you want something?" What, did I stand in line for my health??? To my relief, the male barista came up to the register, and I asked him for a short coffee.
When I looked around for the condiment bar, I saw that the security guard had taken the escalator down and was now standing directly in front of the Starbucks--what the hell??? I debated what to do, but by the time I finished concocting my "distributed redeye" he had returned to the top level, and I was able to get a decent shot.
3:30 AM, realized it wasn't allergies that had been plaguing me all day--I was getting sick!!!
A short bit before 3:00 AM I woke up and found a couple of Lost torrents. The connection was too slow, though, so I went back downtown in front of Theo's and gave that a try. Still no good, and after some slow driving up and down, I finally decided to take a chance on the Starbucks parking lot, where the signal was strong. It was just past three when I arrived, and my car was in full view of Johnson and any passing cops. I relaxed a bit when I saw a cop drive past the store along the side street and then turn onto Johnson without as much as slowing down. With at most two hours before baristas started arriving anyway, I figured I was safe.
I did continue to hear noises, however, probably due in some measure to the relatively higher amount of caffeine I had ingested that day (8 stores). The strangest experience of the night was when what I presume was the delivery truck, a large one, pulled up next to my car, so that when I awoke and peered out the window, all I saw was this large wall of white with red lettering. In might half-asleep and caffeinated state, the sight was eerie.
I once knew a monkey who lived by the sea
I loved that monkey--I thought he loved me
I fed him chicken and I fed him wine
But I never could make monkey think he was mine.
In downtown Grafton, a bar cleverly named The Office.
Cedarburg, charming little town. At the Starbucks, and attractive, if just slightly chubby, blonde overheard my spiel and had plenty of questions. Sybil had an interesting story herself--she had broken a foot after falling while attempting to win a contest... "Drunk of the Week". She did win, BTW. Now, I'm all about competition, but come on! Drunk of the week??? Though congenial and eminently fuckable, this was a person to avoid (unless she learned her lesson).
Across from the pretty Starbucks was a stand named Out & Out, serving custard and sandwiches. As I photographed the Starbucks I realized that I had never in my life eaten custard and decided to give it a try. Like ice cream, but with egg.
Something else unusual, buildings in that area are denoted by coordinates, not addresses. The Starbucks, for example, is W61 N306, a number not understood by Microsoft Streets & Trips, or by me, at least until a real estate agent put down her custard and explained it to me. Later, in Sussex, which has the same coordinate scheme, explained that the coordinates are measured from the Milwaukee post office.
Mixed reaction in Sussex. Negative was the barista who glared at me as I pulled up in front of the store after having snapped a few frames while the parking lot was empty. She was on break, and when she came back in she gave me that suspicious accusatory look that I hate. Thankfully, she was neither the manager nor the supervisor, and so I was able to ignore her during the rest of my stay in the store. The other baristas, in sharp constrast, gave me a rather warm welcome, having me sign an apron, post for a photo with them, and even bought a DVD. Furthermore, a customer had a friend or relative who was a big Starbucks fan and also bought a DVD and had me sign a red piece of paper, a first (red paper).
Whew!!! It had been a while since I had reached the explosive stage, but I had been getting close even before the Potbelly, and by the time I reached the Shorewood store the bathroom was a top-order priority.
Shameful Store of the Day
As nasty as the Sussex barista's glance had been, a barista at I-94 & Holt was downright rude and hostile, shouting at me across the parking lot and then bouncing over with her bubbly blonde blindly-follow-directions airhead to violate my right to freedom of expression. I just ordered my coffee and left, deeming that she did not deserve an explanation given the way she had treated me. To be sure, part of the blame lies with the Starbucks manager, DM, or other higher-up for issuing an unclear or invalid instruction (I've never seen how it is written), but I assign plenty of blame to the airhead herself for following the directions. Remember, neither the Holocaust nor the atrocities at Guantanamo Bay would have occurred were it not for persons blindly following directions. Yes, yes, it's an extreme comparison, but we must never forget that great abuses often start out as small abuses.
While I was blogging, the sun came out, and I pulled out of the parking lot and onto a side street to try for a shot with better light. I could see a barista, not necessarily the original one, staring across four lanes of street at me. I, on the other hand, was being helpful, using my map to guide a lost resident to Southridge Mall. See the difference? Helpful... hostile. Helpful... hostile.
On the way to Franklin I realized I had left my Sharpie in Sussex. With no practical way to retrieve it, I realized that it had actually been to my benefit that they were only sold in packs of multiples.
Then, for no particular reason, I started to rub my fingers up and down my back, and I realized that I was really grimy. I had expected it, that the warmer weather would
Geez, but people don't think sometimes. Drivers routinely pull into a parking space in front of a Starbucks I'm trying to photograph, but in contrast they stop when their path takes them across the line that I'm shooting. The latter is nonsensical, because it only takes them a second to cross, while it can take me minutes to get the photo I want. And just the opposite, it only takes them a few extra seconds to enter the Starbucks if they park in a row not in front of the store, while it can cost me a long wait, or the photo entirely, if they park in front.
Blazing down towards several stores in the far suburbs north by northwest of Chicago was trickier because I was on the phone will Dell, trying to figure out why my order was showing as having shipped, when they were supposed to have called me so I could provide an address!!! Was on hold for a long time and then the call dropped. So I called again, and by the time the agent picked up I was near the Grays Lake store, and I had to juggle his call and my intro and taking the photo so I could rush over to Hainesville and try to get a hint of light. By the time I reached Libertyville, the sun was down, and it was also time for that call from the Overnightscape, which last a looong time.
Got lucky and found a good signal and parking space next to Libertyville store, where I was able to wait for my dowload and also for a better photo in the morning. A little tricker than usual because there was plenty of foot traffic along Milwaukee at the very early hour of 10:00 PM. Finally I pulled my car over to a side street, where there was less traffic, to wait for Smallville to be upload. Around 2:00 AM, when another car left (bars closing), I moved my car back close to the store and was able to finish the download.
7:40. Not much in the way of breakfast choices in Chippewa Falls, it seemed. After getting to the end of what seemed like a main street for restaurants, Bridge St., I asked a lady , Lili Belle, Gofdy's Country Market, Lindsay's, slow but pretty good pancakes
Disaster occurred, as I discovered my laptop's audio jack was not working correctly, hardly at all in fact. I couldn't drive around the country without music, news shows, and TV shows, nor could I ship the computer off for repair because I couldn't continue my trip without it. So I had not choice, I had to order a new one, and this was going to put additional pressure on my overseas travel budget. And, unless I figured where I could have Dell ship the machine along my route, I'd have to drive back to Houston and lose days.
More HSBC madness--an agent finally called, but only to tell me that my passport wasn't good enough for ID, they weren't counting my car loan bill, and they weren't counting my insurance card unless I refaxed so they could see the hole thing. Assholes!!! I was seething! I hated them all. I very much wanted to find the supervisor who had not returned my call, Pamela something, throw her up against a wall, and viciously sodomize her until she admitted that HSBC doesn't give a damn about the customer.
Sky turned overcast, and I was not particularly motivated to reshoot the downtown store, but I was in the mood to find a cool new place to eat. The Queen Bee on College was rather eye-catching. The sign got me craving home cooking instantly, but alas, the place had shut down at 2:00 PM. But two doors down I found the 1910 Sausage Co., by far the fanciest and most stylish hot dog restaurant I have ever seen. And it was more than pretty--the weiner was pretty good too.
8:01, and Heroes still hadn't finished downloading even after fours hours. The reason was that I had picked a signal that had a yellow bar but was still too slow. I should have gone ahead and driven to Snelling & Snelby in St. Paul, a store right on the street with several parking spaces nearby. Well, I'd have to finish downloading it later--I needed to get moving. Good think I did, toom, becauase on Selby I spotted the Neighborhood Cafe and entered just in time for the early bird special. As with $10 lap dances and 50-cent sodas, I'm a sucker for breakfast specials. And this one was pretty usual because it included a choice of drink, even orange juice. Most breakfasts I've encountered only offer coffee, not juice. Wasn't great juice, but juice nonetheless.
My route from Oak Park Heights to Hudson took me through Bayport, where I spotted Not Just a Cafe. I wasn't even close to hungry, but just like $10 lap dances, 50-cent sodas, and breakfast specials, I can't pass up cafes with cool names. The menu wasn't much to my liking though, so I just took away some chili. While waiting I noticed an unusual device, a clock combined with a Rolodex-type mechanism that flipped through small rectangular advertisements. I specifically asked the manager permission to take a photo of the device. Outside, I took a photo of the old building, as usual, and just as I was about to leave the other waitress rushed hurriedly across the street asking why I was taking a photo. With no particularly hurry, I took the time to explain to her that people in general do not like being suspected, and that she should assume the best of people, not the worst. I could tell I wasn't getting thru to her, and she kept explaining that they had been robbed the previous week. When I retorted that I did not think going inside to order, then taking a photo in broad daylight, was the way a thief would operate, she just replied that "it's just odd." Again, I tried to explain that she should not fear what is unusual, but I just wasn't getting through to her. Another example of a person who I hope does not raise children, because she will likely pass on to them the same tendency towards irrational fear. I award her the title of "Harmful Human Flaw of the Week." Needless to say, I'm never returning to Not Just a Cafe.
Nuts. Forgot about The Riches. Hard to keep up with this stuff when constantly moving from place to place.
In Red Wing I was torn between waiting for the car and SUV to move, which I could tell could be a while since the drivers were inside having some sort of business meeting. On the one hand it was entirely possible that I would never again return to Red Wing to take a better photo. On the other hand, I had already burned a lot of time in Minnesota and had not yet started catching up on the pace I wanted to be keeping.
Saw the first Cambodian restaurant I'd ever noticed, along US-63 in Rochester. Not bold enough to give it a try.
Coop's Deli, chili only during the winter. No special exception for persons named Winter.
Holy shit! A clip of an old song on Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me! made me realize that the name of the horse in the Beastie Boy's "Paul Revere" is probably a reference to the earlier song.
After Eau Claire I detoured about 20 miles north to a bustling metropolis named Bloomer, to meet the newly-monogamous Kelly. Met at the gas station and then went into town in search of food. No restaurants open, only bars, and the second we found had food--kinda. They had already put it away and had to rewarm it, chicken and a baked potato. Crappy, but it was food, and Kelly picked up the tab. We walked and then drove around and spotted at least six more bars. According to Kelly, it made complete sense, because Wisconsin residents drink a lot.
Kelly confirmed that the pairings of a slightly larger duck with brighter, green/blue coloring along with a smaller brown duck were actually a male and female pair, not an older/younger pair like I had been assuming for years. Which means that my "Fred and Paco" jokes don't make sense.
7:48, but I couldn't start driving right away because I had forgotten to plot out the stores I need to reshoot. Had to spend 15 minutes doing that first so I'd know which direction to head in. Not that I was thrilled about reshooting any stores, since the sky was overcast. But I had not spent much time at all reshooting stores in MN, and many of my photos were blah.
The strong winds that had been blowing in South Dakota and throughout the route I had driven in Minnesota persisted into Monday, creating difficulty for this small bird who took refuge on the windshield of my car.
Oh shit!!! Optimum Population Trust!!! Finally!!! I had been complaining to myself for years about how in all the news reports on environmentalist I had heard, no researcher or activist had ever mentioned population control. Hearing about this, on top of Richard Dawkins' and Sam Harris' books on atheism gave me hope that I was not going to be completely alone out there in my ideas for a better world.
Aw, shucks! Reporter interested in local story had to cancel because of a fire burning in Northeastern MN.
Did some catching up on my site and Desperate Housewives at Hennepin & 22nd, and had a rare comic book geek discussion with a barista who had finished his shift. It felt kinda good to reconnect with my inner geek, that usually took a backseat to my other interests.
Meanwhile, my level of sexual chargedness had reached stratospheric levels, to the extent that the view of a tall blonde with her back to me, exposing her lower back and occasional hints at her ass when she bent over, sent me into wild paroxyms of arousal, and strong urges to rush over and pull down her sweatpants, consequences be damned. Once again, I was very greatful for my strong impulse control.
Well, I was expecting it--Karen found herself a boyfriend locally in Hong Kong. It was bound to happen.
ATC report on the success of Fark.com got me wondering if there was any conceivable way that my site could reach that level of popularity.
The new Brooklyn Center was conveniently located next to a megaplex, but for the fourth time that day I ran afoul of a poorly-designed Minnesota shopping center entrance. They had been driving me crazy all day, not being able to figure out how to get into the parking lot the natural way. Didn't matter anyway--I had arrived an hour too late, and once again I missed a chance a Disturbia or Fracture, two movies I wanted to see.
So I headed back downtown for food, and something kinda funny happened. I was looking for weiner--The Weinery, actually, and a good hot dog and great fresh-cut fries, but as early at 9:00 PM it had already closed. So I continued up Cedar then Washington looking for food, and I found just the opposite of weiner, at a strip club called Sinners. I would have passed, actually, except that Monday night happened to offer 2-for-1 dances, and I couldn't pass that up. And I'm pretty glad I didn't, because I finally found that something special I'd been looking for, in the form of a Thai (rare) dancer who was more adventurous than I would have ever dreamed of.
8:19, probably not enough to catch up on sleep, but late enough in the day that I had trouble sleeping any more. By the time I finished at the store, chatting with a ver interested manager and a customer, it was almost 9:00, the time when Tasha had said she finished her shift. What the heck, I said, and went back to the Kum & Go and filled up. Tasha had not left yet, so I decided to kill time by reorganizing the back of my car, something I had needed to do anyway after the inspection at the border the previous day. The agents had looked under all my cushioning material and rendered my makeshift bed uncomfortable. Well, I can't imagine what Tasha and the other cashier thought as I took everything in the car out, but something about my having returned just at 9:00 must have made them suspicious. The previous night, Tasha had been very friendly when we chatted, and even in the morning when I went in to pay for the gas. But when she finally left the store, she went straight to her car without saying anything, and I could see the other cashier glancing at me through the window, presumably to see if I was going to follow after her. I had not yet finished arranging my car, and even when I did I killed more time by brushing my teeth. I wanted to give Tasha plenty of time to get home and be witnessed by her family/friends. In the unlikely event that there happened to be a murderer in town and he got to her, I did not want to be the last person witnessed around her. There were way too many wrongfully convicted people sitting in prison for my comfort.
DeToy's in a town called Canby, where the old movie theater is for sale.
Excitement in Marshall as, by coincidence, a barista had just seen the Starbucking trailer on YouTube and recognized my t-shirt when I walked in. I was photographed half a dozen times, I sold two DVDs, and even received an unusual gift, a photo of the store signed by all the partners present. And perhaps more unusual, one of the baristas claimed she was in cotrespondence with Jay Leno and submitted jokes to him all the time--dubious, but I guess it's possible. She said she would pitch my story, but I wasn't going to hold my breath. Leno just didn't seem interested in my story,which I found more interesting than many of the guests I'd seen on the show.
Eggs and toast from DeToy's hadn't carried me very far, nothing appealing in Marshall or Fairmount, so by the time I reached Mankato I was might hungry, and Erbert & Gerbert's sign caught my eye, solely based on their catchy name. Cold sub, like Jimmy John's, which I don't like, but still decent, and the chicken chili (perhaps my first time trying some) was ok.
A first in Shakopee, the first time a manager had been photographed with me at two different stores.
Massage prices in Minneapolis seemed to be higher than I remembered, and it looked like I was going to have to wait until Chicago, but somehow I amazed myself by talking the one of two therapists who called me back into dropping the price from $45 to $30. Heck, when I told her I was on a budget and trying to stick to $30, I was expecting her to propose something like $35 or $37, to split the difference. I wasn't expecting her to say $30 was fine, but I certainly didn't argue. And on top of the discount, I got a heck of a massage. Almost like finding that very special Starbucks.
Could have made it out to Plymouth with light, but with the sky still overcast, I had little motivation and just saw Spider-Man 3 again. It was good that I had already seen it once, because I was less bothered by the loud child than I would have otherwise been. At one point, somebody else loudly told the parent to take the child out, but he did not. Since I didn't particularly like the scene in which Peter Parker dances poorly, I took the opportunity to go inform a manager, who sent a guard into the auditorium. But despite my directions, the guard stood on the wrong side of the room, and the kid's random ejaculations continued. Another example of a parent who should never have been allowed to procrapate.
Suitable parking near downtown took me a few minutes to find, but I finally found a good spot along Loring Park. Parks are pretty good.
6:59, extremely sleepy, but I had to leave immediately and drive pretty fast if I was going to have any chance at getting into the tournament. A little tricky at first, because I had to fight more sleep inertia than I was used to, since I usually waited a few minutes to wake up before starting to drive.
Heh, passed a town named Starbuck on Highway 2 near Winnipeg.
After a quick grocery stop reached the community center about 15 minutes before the tournament, but, despite my hopes, all players were present, and I was not able to get in. I wasn't all that disappointed, though, given that other than one other player at my level, everybody else was significantly lower-rated, dipping as far down as the 1100s. I was a lock to win 1st or 2nd, but I might still lose ratings points if I didn't win most or all of my games.
Torn up about whether or not to skip Thunder Bay. On the one hand, I was getting sick of long drives. On the other hand, I really wanted to hit that 99%. On the other hand, it was looking like the time required to visit the more remote stores were actually hurting my chances of hitting 99%, because new stores were opening in that time.
The day was overcast and there was occasionally drizzling, all in all lousy conditions for rephotographing stores, pretty bad luck for remote Winnipeg. I still tried, and not far down from the Academy store, I finally found, after nearly three weeks, a suitable massage, on Academy. Just $35, Canadian, for the 1/2 hr. After nearly 10 days, the shower was great. The therapist was also very good, and not completely conservative, but still not as open-minded as I would have preferred.
The interrobang??? Who knew?
Had to go inside Kildonan Crossing to kiwi, and while I was there tried to get the opening date, but it was useless, like pulling teeth. The question just seemed to irritate the barista "helping" me. Where do they hire these people, who don't seem to understand customer service, jeez. Admittedly, my ever-increasing hunger, almost to the point of lightheadedness, might have had an effect on my perceptions. I had an apple, banana, juice, and a PowerBar in the car still, but I was holding out for a good meal before starting the drive back down to ND.
Finally, out of desperation, I decided to give Pita Pit a try. Overpriced and yucky.
Around 1:00, starting to crash.
Oh, sweet! CBC segment about risk-taking ended by playing R.E.M.'s "Wall of Death", a B-side I had never previously heard on the radio. And a song I had not heard in a long, long time, since those fucking fuckers broke into my car and stole the CD case that had all my singles, including my really expensive and hard to find Erasure singles!!! THOSE FUCKERS!!!
Well, that was a strange one. The secondary strap from my backpack dipped into the lidless coffee cup I had in the car, necessitating that I suck the coffee from it. Kinda gross, seeing as how that strap had probably touched the ground a thousand times, including the floor of countless bathrooms. I felt ill.
5:11, still good to drive, but headache, more fake Excedrin, more tablets consumed in recent days that during much of the trip.
Freshly showered, I decided to check out the one strip club in Fargo when I saw it had dances prices as low as $10. Then $10 dance was tame, but there were a few unusualities to make the stop worthwhile. First, the club was divided in two, a sports bar and the topless club. Not necessarily unusual, but the fact that both had gambling, slots at the former and blackjack in the latter, was. Lots of female patrons, too--that seemed unusual. But what caught me totally by surprise was that, as I was leaving, what appeared to be a family--father, mother, and two girls--entered the club. I assumed they were going to the sports bar, but the girls still looked younger than 21.
What the fuck??? Tried to sprint across the street for a quick reshoot of University Dr when my right thigh suddenly cramped up!!! I never cramped before I got old!!!
In an unusual act, the dancer from Northern had recommended a club in Watertown, SD, where I just happened to be headed anyway. As tired as I was, and with strong winds and rain, I definitely would have stopped at the first rest area, but the Fargo dancer had claimed there were more liberal girls at Southfork. Never underestimate the motivational power of tits & ass--I pushed through the fatigue, the strong winds, the darkness, and the rain that turned into an all-out downpour as I neared Watertown. If I were a religious man (and thank god I'm not), I would have through a higher power was trying to keep me away from that booty.
At Southfork, the first thing I noticed was a sign "WE NO LONGER ACCEPT CHECKS"--okay, what the heck kind of strip club ever accepted checks? The dancers were indeed more up close and personal than in Fargo, to the extent that I had to gently push the one giving me a couch dance away a couple of times to avoid her taking me to a point I didn't want to get to. But the club was nothing special, with one exception. Besides the regular $20 couch dances, the dancers also offered table dances for a minimum tip of one dollar! For that price, I got a table dance from each of the six girls working over the course of a couple of hours--some were little more than air, but others got up close for a good 30-60 seconds--a hell of a bargain for a buck!!!
Oddly enough, I found myself focused not on any girl from the club, but from the cashier at the Kum & Go station where I had stopped to get directions to the club. The young woman, college age, was a bit homely, with acne and bad teeth, but still attractive in a girl-next-door, flaws-can-be-fixed kind of way. I went back to the Kum & Go to see if she was there and when she was getting off, and I had a strong urge to try and offer to pay her for a lap dance, more than anything curious if she would take the money, and how much, but I just couldn't pull the trigger. Too much uncertainty about how she would react.
Wal-Mart conveniently located behind the Starbucks (or is that the other way around). The strong winds that plagued my drive down to Watertown continued. Later the next morning I would learn the wind gusts had reached 50 MPH, and they were strong enough to rock my car throughout the night and create a whistling noise as the wind hit my windshield. It was kinda cool, actually.
8:30, only 5 hours sleep. No particularly hurry, but I felt awake enough to move on so I figured I'd shoot the two stores before the sun got higher in the sky and then nap later.
Found a bagel shop on the main drag, but they did not fry their eggs. The employee recommended Tally's, and as I was about to head over there Brandon called, and we agreed to met there. Sold a DVD, took a photo, and chatted for a while. During the converation I asked why he had moved to South Dakota of all places, and he replied that it was because of his job, as a pastor. I did not pursue the topic. Later, he asked me what I had learned from my travels, and then got more specific, asking about faith. I quickly told him I could not discuss faith with him, and later I made sure he understood it was not personal.
So there it was, it finally happened, what I had been expecting, that somebody who I met through my Starbucks project, a fan, if you will, would bring up religion, thus putting me in an awkward position of not wanting to diss the person, but not wanting to express even the slightest hint of tacit approval of religion. Brandon was cogenial and claimed to be open to different ways of thinking, but of course I expected that in the future I would meet people who would be insulted and possibly become hostile.
Split decision, with the manager of one store very interested in my project, while at the other store I did not even bother to introduce myself, because of the way the manager reacted when I asked for a sample cup. Not a sample, mind you, but just a sample cup, so that I could measure the correct amount of the coffee from the first store (where the magaer had not foundd the cups). She glared at me and asked why
Unexpected massage parlor i a town called Bell Fourche. Good price, $25 for a 1/2 hr, but unfortuantely no shower, so I had to pass. Actually, given that the therapist who was in session answered the phone, I probably wouldn't have wanted to see her anyway, because I dislike when a therapist answers the phone during my massage time.
Actually, as I drove up US-85 and then looked more closely at my map, I realized Belle Fouce is bigger than I though. Even though it was not yet time for the big motorcycle festival, I still saw plenty of choppers around. Might have seen more if I had driven through Sturgis itself, which is what the Main St manager had indicated, but Streets & Trips plotted a different route.
DQ hot dog not as bad as I expected.
Not great, but reasonably priced angel hair pasta with meatballs from Pizza Sammy. Over the next few days I would see at least one other Pizza Sammy, in MN I think.
A delay at the border crossing because it was apparently understaffed, but not a lot of questions. Not too many options for stopping shown on my map along Highway 2, and I considered taking the Transcanada, an extra 10 miles, in case there was a rest area. Decided to take my chances with Hwy 2 anyway, and I ended up getting screwed by a time-consuming detour along shit roadways around Wanawesa. Tried to sleep there, but got a bad vibe, so I drove on another 18 miles to Glenboro. All the while I was amazed that I was still awake and not dizzy or losing consciousness for split seconds like usual. It was about 1:00 AM when I finally stopped. I likened it to the miracle of Hanuka, wherein my stamina lasted much longer than expected.
Woke at 6:30 and the light was perfect for a photo. But with 750 miles to Rapid City, SD, I wanted to sleep as much as possible before calling the radio station and meeting the reporter. Finally decided to get moving at 7:01, and the first order of business, while changing, was to crank up Lost, as "The Brig" was billed to be an important episode.
First one last hit of Tim Hortons, and I kept my promise to the radio guys and gave their coffee a try. Tasted very weak. Reminded me of the late nights a Denny's after Starbucks had closed.
While waiting for the reporter from the Medicine Hat News, I called up the radio station. After a quick update they invited me to go over to the studio. After the reporter showed up and we chatted a while, I backtracked a bit to Redcliff and did another update and plug for the movie on air. Not done yet--the TV station also wanted me, and I waited for them to dub a film clip and then we headed over to the Starbucks. Ended up leaving the city much later than I had hoped, but the publicity was important even if I was risking the Spider-Man 3 screening.
I usually cut my gas close so I can fill up cheaper on the U.S. side, but it's a good think some gut instinct warned me against doing that this time, because there was no gas on the U.S. side of the Wild Horse crossing, not for a good distance to a town called Havre.
Not many questions at the border, but they did have me fill out a customs form--couldn't remember having done that too many times, if at all, except for air flights.
First night in a while sleeping less than eight hours. I didn't think I was that fatigued, so it was a surprise to get a headache. But a couple of fake Excedrin took care of it, and I was able to stay away for the entire 760 mile distance, blazing as fast as the smaller highways permitted for the first part of the trip, and then blazing as fast as rain permitted. Had to go out of my way, into Billings, to the Kinko's to fax that info to the credit card company, and that cost me a lot of time. Even with Billings' low population there was a rush hour delay. But I had to eat, so I grabbed a quick burrito, not bad, and later I made up some time by stealthing the two stores. Ended up reaching Rapid City with an hour to spare and quickly learning that selling out was not an issue.
Meanwhile, during the afternoon I had been trying to coordinate with a fan from Rapid City who had expressed interest in seeing the film too. Unfortunately, I had gotten one of the digits wrong and left a message for a stranger. A stranger who thought it would be funny to call me back and pretend to be Brandon. Had me going for a while, until I heard laughing in the background. Later, the real Brandon called, and I figured my mistake. But later, when I neared RC, I got the number wrong again. This time, the person on the other end said "I think you have the wrong number." I was tired and frustrated from the rain, and I decided it was too much trouble and that I would wait to see if Brandon called.
After the film I went off in search of Wi-Fi. After some wandering, I found a reasonably strong signal. But after I finished changing, out of the blue (the darkness, really), a small black car swerved around the corner, pulled a u-turn, and parked in front of me. The driver hopped out, went through a gap in the shrubbery and presumably into the house. Maybe a minute later he returned to the car and drove off around the corner. I turned my attention away, and a minute later I thought I saw the car parked on that cross street, facing me, as if he was observing me. I was pretty tired, so I was sure what I saw, but I took no chances and moved along, downtown, where there were plenty of parking spaces and a halfway-decent signal.
7:53 After a week and an ever-growing tear, it was time to switch briefs. Perhaps time to discard this pair, but I have to wonder if I can sell them on eBay, signed and certified with the names of the Starbucks I visited while wearing them. Probably not going to happen, but they did come in handy as a rag to dab in gasoline and wipe off the adhesive from he Seattle parking stickers from my window. I had to get rid of the gasoline smell, though, and s I decided to hang them out the window. When I got to the next Starbucks and an attractive blonde seemed to glance at my car, I had to wonder if briefs hanging from my car window would have an effect on my "cool factor", you know, with the chicks.
Rocky Mountain sheep warning along 1A as I approached Canmore.
Canmore, scenic town
Can't see it from this angle, but that bird was big--what's it been eating? I felt bad for it, though, because when I chased it to try and get a better shot I learned it could not fly.
As I neared downtown Calgary I turned off Democracy Now podcast found a cool station, 90.9, playing some good hip hop, including The Roots. I could not help but move my torso and arms to the beat, much to amusement of a man in a burgundy minivan who spotted me before I spotted him and stilled myself.
Tastebuds & Co Cafe, thought the sign read "Tastebucks" at first and wondered why they had not been sued.
Finally passed a Latin American restaurant, La Casa Latina, with dishes from various countries, but the prices were ridiculous--$16.95 for a "bandeja paisa". I tried to order plaintains, beans, and rice separately, but amazingly, the chef said they were low on whole kidney beans and would not sell them separately, only the refried beans. Fuck that.
Worst wrong turn ever, leaving Deerfood Meadows, accidentally got on Deerfoot Trail northbound instead of south, during the rush hour. Cost me at least 30 min, if not more. All the while, the clock towards Spider-Man 3 at midnight in Rapid City, South Dakota was ticking ever downward.
Whoa! Louisiana plates! Is that a Katrina refugee?
5:28, no lunch yet, just two donuts, sooooo hungry. Almost gave in and went with corporate burrito from TacoTime Cantina, but I called up a reserve of willpower and walked away, leaving the cashier with a befuddled look.
Wow, Calgary is truly a world-class city, if the rush hour traffic is any indication of that.
Also a Western city, if the young woman in the boots and black cowboy hat, blasting country music from her stereo, is any indication.
Finally found reasonably-priced spaghetti, Pizza Delight, $7.69, but a 20-minute wait, which the little wench of a hostess failed to tell me up front. Only after she had taking my phone #, my name, and then worked out the change on a calculator did she drop the time bomb. Grrr...
Fuel 90.3 rock station pretty good.
I never lied to you, but if I did, it was only to cover the uncovered squid.
Marlon, Cooling, 7:27
60-90 min wait at the Tire & Lube Center at the Wal-Mart in Spruce Grove, but the car was already overdue for an oil change and I had no choice. Burned much of that time cleaning up the back of the car and buying Q-Tips anyway, then walking across the highway to the Starbucks and shaving. So it wasn't that bad a wait, and then things got better. A woman overheard me talking to the supervisor and became very interested. Turns out she was a freelance journalist and expressed interest in a story. Since I still had to wait for my car, I obliged her, and not only did I get the possibility of a story in Canada, but I sold a couple of DVDs too!
Couldn't remember if the bargain pasta I had had five years earlier had been on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, but there had been a restaurant that sold me some very reasonably priced spaghetti, like around $5 o $6. A manager at one of the Starbucks confirmed that he had heard of such a Holding out for pasta Tuesday.
Heading into the city on Stony Plain Rd. I passed Magic Touch Massage and decided to see what the prices were. I was pretty much already sure the place wasn't for me, when, just a few hundred feet away along the sidewalk was a sign that reads something like "THIS COMMUNITY DOES NOT TOLERATE PROSTITUTION" and gave a number to call to "Report-a-John". The woman that greeted me at the door did not even offer up a pretense of a real massage--she just quoted a price of $200. Nope, wrong place for me. But beyond that, the price was ridiculous for another reason. The woman was older, with a worn, perhaps scarred, face, and a slightly masculine air about her body and voice. I couldn't imagine why anybody who had options would want to pay her $200, but, there it is.
On 109th St I saw a sign for Karma Sutra Massage, which looked interesting. The place had changed to Legends, and was even more obvious--a sign along the stairway warned that it was "ADULT ENTERTAINMENT" (18 years old to enter), but I'm glad I entered anyway, because I got a bit of a treat. The receptionist was not in the waiting room, and so I just walked around. When I noticed a big TV monitor that read "Main Menu", I thought it said "massage menu" and walked into the room. Oops--it wasn't for customers, but just for the "therapists", and I caught one of them changing, bare-breasted! Well, wasn't that a pleasant surprise. Several of the other ladies I saw, more clothed, were still pretty good-looking. A place to keep in mind, if I ever wanted to spend that kind of money.
Curses--finally passed a place advetising a pasta day, but it was Monday, not Tuesday.
"$5000 REWARD FOR RETURN OF STOLEN BOBCAT"--are people allowed to keep bobcats in Edmonton???
Passed another massage parlor, Studio 118 on 118th, and my research continued. This one had a more reasonable door fee, $25, and the girl who spoke to me was reasonably attractive. Had it just been the $25 session and massage, I might have stayed for that shower, but there was also a $60 minimum tip, plus the girl said her specialty was reflexology, not massage. Never bought into that whole reflexology thing. And, given my altered physiological state, I really needed the focus to be on thge the massage, not the extra goodies.
However, I did end up scoring, a mother lode of old Playboy special editions, from the early 2000s and late 90s. The bookstore owner said they were really hard to come by, presumably because people collect them more than the regular Playboy magazine.
One finally try at massage, from Rhythm Massage on 108th Ave. The coupon in the free weekly advertised $25, but only in April. It was May 1st, and the lady at the door said she could not honor the coupon. For that reason alone I wouldn't have stayed, even if the lady hadn't looked 10-15 years too old and too worn to be wearing the short schoolgirl skirt. Really--she wanted to charge $125 for a handjob--was she insane? I was reminded of an expression a former boss used to direct at me, routinely--"what type of drugs are you on???" He would usually add, "no, I don't really want to know."
Once again, even though I didn't get the massage I wanted, the detour worked, because farther down the road I stumbled across the Calabash Cafe, Caribean food--pretty good oxtails. They were served with rice and something called pigeon peas. No idea what they were, but they tasted pretty good.
A barista had mentioned a shortage of labor being a problem for Starbucks' expansion in Alberta, and several times during the day I heard news items to that effect. It was no coincidence--the date was May 1st, an international day for labor. I cared not a whit for this, because oppressed workers are victims of their own irrationality. What I cared about was whether the labor shortage would slow down Starbucks' expansion, thus easing my burden in this extremely remote part of the continent.
Mental note, 66th St south of 14, another Carribean place, and a Latin cuisine place.
Indiscriminate use of the word "shit" on a youth radio program.
Just as I reached Ponoka, an ambulance, fire rescue truck, and RCMP unit all merged onto the highway. Accident up ahead, no doubt, and the potential of a big backup. I had to find a balance between racing to get ahead of as many vehicles as possible before traffic backed up, and catching the attention of the RCMP ahead of me and the one a mile or two back. Fortunately, a man in a small white car was in as much of a hurry and raced past me, so I was able to tag along at 85 until we reached the scene of the indicent. Then the dumbfuck decided to rubberneck, and I had to honk at him. I fucking hate rubberneckers--wasting people's time for no good reason, just to satisfy their primal curiosities. Grrr...
Another torrent removal e-mail.
Finally remembered to download American Doll Possee. At first I was shocked that the price has higher than usual, $14.99, but later I realized it contains 24 tracks (though some are very short).
Lots of downloading to do, exit Country Hills, find first neighborhood, then drive really slowly in a suspicious manner until I find a combinaition of strong signal plus place to park.
E-mail from the lady from the Calabash Cafe alerting me that I had dropped a credit card. She had already called the company and they had blocked it. AARRGHH!!! Now instead of having her send it to Winnipeg for me to pick it up I would have to wait weeks for a new card to arrive in Houston and then be sent to whereever I would be. And without that new card, I wouldn't be going overseas!
Something unusual on the way up to Prince George along Highway 97, place names with references to miles from some point to the south. 70 Mile House, 100 Mile House, 150 Mile House, and business names indicating the mile, like 99 Mile service center, etc. Since Canada uses kilometers, I found the mile references particularly unusual. place names references to miles, not km
Cool, radio reports new Tori out this week.
Employee says Safeway in Canada the same company, but Organics yogurt only available in large.
Mandatory Tim Horton's.
Blue informational signs list local radio stations--wish they had those in the States.
Listening to the award-winning This American Episode about Guantanamo, and I cannot help but have a real fear that I will end up there one day. All that has to happen is for the U.S. to put my name on a list at some border crossing anywhere. I could be flying into London to visit Starbucks, and next thing be on my way to Cuba for indefinite detention.
Finally, Prince George!!! 2600 miles from Houston, farthest point by car, by 500 miles. And also, my 7000th store, probably.
Road check around McKenzie, first I could remember.
Dude! AB road shit
Was that a moose??? Whatever it was, it was big, and I'm glad it wasn't on the highway because, unlike the deer I once hit, that thing would have destroyed my Hyundai. oooo... that's what the big sign with the bright yellow mooose on it means--it's a warning!
rest area scratching smooth area
Slept until 8:03. With no interview or ferry schedules to keep, there was no point depriving myself of slept, especially with a very long drive to Prince George coming up later in the day.
Strange dream during the night, that a manager had let slip that Starbucks was planning on going into bankruptcy. Not because the company wasn't doing well, but rather as part of a strategy to obtain more debt. Absurd, of course, but it was a dream.
In a separate dream, I could hear the song Sweetness Follows. I was very glad to be able to crank up iTunes and get the song out of my system.
Hope, Darrell's. Rolly's, lots of motels, Hope Hotel Cafe
uphill on 5, flurries
Hey, how did Fred and Paco get all the way up to Penticton from San Diego???
Went over to Cherry Lane for a reshoot, and as I was walking into the store to ask about the date, some guy stormed out of the mall entrance shouting "FUCK" over and over. He sat down on a bench, not exactly in my intended frame, but close enough that he might notice me and wonder if I was photographing him. I wondered if I should go back to the car and get my pocket knife (lot of good that would do) or my bat (kind of obvious, I thought). Thankfully by the time I left the store he was walking back into the mall.
Baristas at Cherry Lane suggested the Dream Cafe. Since the French toast from earlier had sucked so bad, I decided to give breakfast another try. Pretty good toast, eggs, potatoes, and something different, chorizo.
At the new Westbank store a reasonably attractive blonde noticed the DVD around my neck and seemed very interested in the project and film. She invited me to chat outside with some of her other Starbucks-loving friends, and at first I wondered why outside. Was she planning to kidnap me? Kill me? But then I realized she just needed a smoke.
Jamie was very nice, but despite my hopes, she did not buy a DVD, nor did she offer to become the "something special" I was seeking.
After I finished taking my photos and drove off, I noticed her brown sweater way at the end of the street. It hadn't occurred to me she might be on foot. I went down the street and offered her a lift. She replied that she was going to some bible camp, and the implication I understood was that the camp was in an opposite direction from the Starbucks she knew I needed to visit. Ordinarily I would have told her I didn't mind going out of my way, but the words "bible camp" were all I needed to hear to spur me to move on, thinking "what a waste, another mind ruined."
While reshooting Bernard & Pandosy I went inside to find out when it had opened, and when I went outside an RCMP was, apparently, confiscating a squeegie from an (apparently) indigent young man. I find those squeegie people to be a pain in the ass, but I thought the Canadians were a bit more liberal than that, supposedly the moral compass that the United States lacks (forgive my use of of the subuseful word "moral").
Anyway, after talking with the man a while, the cop went inside for Starbucks. Of course.
At the first new store in Kelowna, the visit went awry immediately when, upon exiting the bathroom, I found that the baristas had moved my DVDs from where I had set them and thrown away my sample cup. I didn't like the way they were looking at me, so I decided not to tell them who I was or about the movie, and just left as quietly as possible.
Shit!!! Now Turkey is facing political turmoil, and that is one of the countries I hope to hit in a month or two. Andthen there's also France, where if Nikolas Sarkozy wins, weeks of strikes are predicted.
Got the first word that Starbucking was mentioned at an official Starbucks function, a conference of some sort.
Vern's pizza, dour-faced
Took me long enough, but finally subscribed to the This American Life Podcast! And then I noticed, holy shit, PRI has a shitload of shows available on podcast!!! I'll never suffer dead air again!!!
Well-spaced rest areas, so I was able to drive a good distance before stopping. Probably could have gone another 48 miles, but what was the point?
At 7:00 I moved over to the Canadian Tire lot so I could be first for my tire. Good thing, because after they finished at 8:45, plus a lengthy 5-minute delay to ring me up, I barely made the ferry terminal with 5 minutes to spare.
While waiting for the tire I went over to Starbucks and tried a bear claw. The Happy Valley juice was delicious as always, but the bear claw I could have done without. I introduced myself to the assistant manager, and she seemed friendly, but later on I could hear her whispering something, and when I heard "7,000", I knew she was talking about me. At the same time I heard something about calling Seattle, and I saw a barista on the phone and occasionally glancing at me. I wondered if they were reporting me to Seattle, but later it seemed more like they were calling about a piece of equipment malfunctioning. Still, you never know, when people whisper about you, what ill consequences might ensue.
During the ferry ride, random urge to be in the Midwest, like rural Indiana.
Interesting. Signs on the Earls Cove-Saltery Bay ferry mandated that passengers not remain on the vehicle decks during the trip. I saw the signs and wondered if I had been breaking Transport Canada regulations during the times I had slept in the car during the rides to/from Vancouver Island. When I got back on the Langsdale-Horseshoe Bay ferry I noticed passengers remaining in their vehicles, and I did not see any signs prohibiting it. Why on one ferry but not another? Same company, BC Ferries, and same government agency, Transport Canada.
Road to Squamish sucked serious ass. Really slow about half the way due to construction. Very narrow lanes.
parking danger Chris Morgan
shit almost mesmerized, curves, shadows
Cannot stand these shabutonic ass muhfuckas.
So is it my dark skin, my demeanor, or perhaps my hair? At the Langley store I carful of attractive young females pulled up next to me just as I was about to back up for a photo. I waved at the driver and then rushed over to the her side and waved again. The (perhaps) racist little bitch looked at me like I was fixin' to rob her, and I almost had to coax her to lower her window so I could ask her to move the car a space over, which she did. Of course, if she had had any intelligence at all she would have taken the other row of parking spaces not in front of the store. Reminds me of a line from a Killah Priest song, "Walk beside white women they start holding they purse. I just asked you for the time, bitch--what you got anyway? Some of the Indian's turf." Point being, a dark man approaching a white woman is just as likely as not to see a hint of fear or concern in her eyes, even if she smiles and talks polite. Well, at least I didn't get lynched.
Well, it finally happened. After a week of teasing, the zipper of the smaller pouch of my backpack finally stopped working, thus rendering the pack useless for an overseas trip, or any flight whatsoever. Sucked because I had not even gotten two years out of it, after spending a ridiculous $90 in London after the Canadian suckpack tore within 24 hours of use.
Well, I finally did it, something extremely unusual, I think, and perhaps amazing. 21 days without climax, beating the 20 days from a few years earlier, and perhaps my longest time ever, depending on whether I really managed 6 weeks in college as I remember. I was rather proud of my mental discipline. Whether or not few ejaculations is really healthy or not I'm not sure about, but I have definitely learned that delaying gratification results in more intense experiences.
Chilliwack corn, and I don't care.
One last hit of Top Pot, and then it was finally "Oh, Canda" time!
A bit of sadness as I left the range of KEXP's signal.
Super ghetto gas station at the Wal-Mart in Tulilalip. Not only did the air/water machine charge 75 cents, but when it cut off before I had filled all tires, the Mirastar attendant said they (Wal-Mart or Mirastar?) took no responsibility, that I had to call the number on the machine. Of course nobody answered. And the only reason I was using the machine anyway, instead of just having the tires filled along with the oil changed I needed was that the stupid Wal-Mart wanted to charge me more for 5W-20. That on top of a 90-minute way. No, way, man--for that price I could find any other lube shop off-speak and have it done in 10 minutes!
Plenty of questions at the border, but not maybe about my name, not like last time. Took a while, but the agent did not choose to register me.
I suffered through my intensifying hunger while reshooting several stores and visiting one new one because I was fixated on that chili from Siegel's Bagels. Thus is was particularly disappointing when I arrived to discover that the chili is no longer on the menu. The young man who made the chili was still there, but the boss told him to stop making it, long ago, because they just weren't selling enough. Dammit. I loved that chili!
The district manager at Park Royal Indigo happened to be chatting with the manager, and the supervisor introduced me to them. The DM said something interesting, something like "you're the one with the blog." Very usual that she mentioned my blog. That, combined with the way she reacted and looked at me during our conversation, made me wonder whether somebody had specifically alerted her to the more blunt and candid observations that make it into my blog.
Hit the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal around 4:15, and given the schedule I had seen I considered myself lucky I would only have to wait an hour. Could have been two. But what I didn't consider fortunate was the price--$46.60!!! When I had looked at the fare schedule I had been under the impression that the cost would be about $10 each way. Wrong!!! The cashier said the $46.60 was round trip, and I sure hope she was right.
I was surprised to find that from the terminal I was able to walk thru a gate into the town of Horseshoe Bay itself. During all my previous ferry trips I had been limited to whatever shops were on the terminal property. I spotted a Blenz Coffee, which I had seen before, though I can't remember where. Good thing they had Wi-Fi and power outlets, because the coffee itself, the Peruvian organic, didn't do it for me. I dumped out most of it.
Upon boarding the ferry I spotted a black-haired, fair-skinned young woman, accent indeterminate (possibly European), reading The Bridges of Madison County. Since I had read the book twice and thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I decided to try to engage her in conversation, but she wasn't having it. That's how you can tell women find you utterly unattractive, when they won't even speak to you even though you have a common interest.
Did Gibsons and Sechelt as quickly as possible and then tried to rush to the Earls Cove terminal, but the drive turned agonizingly slow when me and the pickup I was following first got stuck behind a truck, who eventually used a turnout, and then a bus driven by an asshole who refused to use the turnouts.
A moment of confusion at the terminal when I saw nobody taking tickets. Turns out the $46.60 I paid was good for both ferry rides up the peninsula, but not for the return.
Turned out I was the last passenger vehicle to arrive, and I think I waited no more than 5 minutes before cars started moving. Had I dawdled in Gibsons or Sechelt or not been as aggressive about passing cars during the remainder of the trip, I might not have made it. And that would have been too bad, because the sunset offered some really great views.
Oh, that's soooo not fair! I got all excited when, in the bathroom on the ferry, I saw a shower. But it didn't work!!! It was only connected during a 15-hour passage available only during the summer.
Oh, how typically Canadian, I suppose. Halfway thru the ferry ride, an agent came on the intercom and announced the score of the hockey game, 1-1.
A horrible, horrible dream during the night, that something in the lens of my camrea had broken when I was out in the middle of nowhere. Not really--Minnesota, maybe 10 miles along the interstate from the city, but in the dream it seemed like a horrible ordeal, but also an opportunity to buy a D80. Maybe that's what the dream was telling me--buy a D80!
At 5:31 I did not notice anybody at the Thrifty counter, and I remembered that the automated phone message had stated 6:00, not 5:30 like the Hertz people told me. At 6:17 I saw two ladies at the counter and walked over, half-asleep, to make sure they had my reservation. But I told them I would be going back to sleep for about an hour and pointed to the corner. At 7:16 I saw a line of several people and decided I needed to get a move-on. When I got up to the counter the agent told me that they had just run out of compact cars! I gave her what was probably a nasty-ish look and explained that I was just over in the corner, that they could have woken me if they were going to run out of cars. She ended up putting me in a larger car, which was kinda okay, but I was still going to end up spending more on gas.
While waiting in line I thought about removing my undershirt, but as soon as I stepped out into the parking garage I was glad I kept it on. No, it was not bitterly cold as one might imagine of Alaska, but it was mighty nippy still.
Even with the sun in my face it was still a sweet view of the snow-capped mountains on the way to the first store, a sharp contrast with the lush green mountains of Hawaii.
Good reception at that first store, scoring a mug. Less so at most of the other stores. The assistant manager at the second store warned me that I should head to Eagle River instead of the Diamond store because it would be very busy. I should have listened to her, because there was quite a line, the store was a man down, and as a result the whole experience turned sour for a while. Most disturbing was that a lady patron shouted something at me when I passed by her, and she insisted I had bumped her or stepped on her or something, and I had zero recollection whatsoever of having come into contact with her.
Barista at the downtown store recommended the Downtown Deli and Cafe. Biscuits this far from the South, and decent ones too--I was pleasantly surprised. Instead of bacon I had the reindeer sausage. Figured I might as well try it, since I had not seen such on a menu anywhere else. It was okay--not great, not bad, mostly just... different.
Can't say why, but for some reason Anchorage feels more American than Hawaii. When I'm driving around Hawaii I still have this feeling of alieness that I do not feel in Anchorage.
Finished at Eagle River with plenty of time to spare. Did some driving around, in part just checking out the city, but more importantly seeking a strong Wi-Fi signal so I could watch Lost. At Tudor & Lake Otis, across the latter from the Starbucks, there is Golden Donut with Wi-Fi. The manager/owner claimed that their donuts were excellent, better than most, so much so that customers would buy them in bulk and freeze them for later consumption. I was dubious, but it was indeed a pretty good donut. I preferred Top Pot, but I expect to make a return trip.
Reshot three of the stores, and then with time to kill still I considered the massage I was now badly in need of, at a place with an interesting name, Dhani Massage, that looked interesting. Earlier, as I had driven around, I had passed no fewer that three oriental massage parlors, none of which seemed appealing. But despite my (physically) stressed-out feeling, I wouldn't need a shower for a few days yet, maybe longer depending upon the temperature in Canada, and with the U.S. portion of my trip nearly two weeks behind the schedule I would have hoped for, I needed to conserve the cash.
Similarly, I did not want to spend a lot on lunch because I was not yet really hungry after breakfast and the donut. I found nothing appealing on the way to the airport, but about a mile or two past it on Minnesota I passed Angelina's, a Filipino place. I found it amusing that I had stumbled across Filipino restaurants in both Hawaii and Alaska within days of each other. Nothing looked particularly appealing at this place, but I had to eat, and the soup with noodles and ground beef fo $2.99 was sufficient.
Sleep during the flight was made more difficult by a strange itching all over my body.
Upon arrival took a bit longer than I had hoped to get back to WallyPark, from where I rushed to a Starbucks to check movie listings. I was tired, but I had decided I wanted to see The TV Set after all. But I was too late.
I also noticed, via Google alerts, that torrent files for Starbucking had been posted. I immediately notified Alex and Bill and sent a message to one of the sites explaining it was copyrighted material and that theft affected me directly.
Touched down right around 5:38, on time, and as soon as I deplaned I rushed to my car and up to the 2nd & Lenora store to get as much sleep as possible while finishing some downloads. At 8:00 I decided I need more sleep, so I went ahead and paid the 75 cents for 30 minutes parking. At 8:30 I pulled the car around the corner and paid for another 30 minutes. At 9:06 I finally felt kinda caught up on sleep and headed up to Wedgewood to complete my triptych of Top Pot donuts. On the way, I stopped at a place called Hogan's to leave my laundry. When I returned to check on it, I was pleased to discover the place has Wi-Fi!
After receiving a response to a message I posted on CGP, I went over to the Queen Anne store to meet Rebecca for some Scrabble. I set up copies of the DVD on the table, and a few minutes later one of the baristas asked if I was selling them and said they didn't allow selling inside the store. Thing is, I hadn't solicited anybody and I had no sign advertising the DVDs. They were just sitting there, propped up for visibility. I replied that I was not planning to solicit to anybody, only hoping to get others to ask me about the DVD. After agreeing that I would do any selling outside, he left me alone. Later, as he was leaving after his shift, he wished me luck. I got the impression he didn't really care if I sold DVDs or not, that he was just trying to following orders.
I lucked out, and Rebecca offered me use of her shower, thus eliminating the need to find one before boarding the flight.
After some debating back and forth, finally went with WallyPark at $8.95 (+ tax). Since I arrived at 8:48 and my return flight was not scheduled to arrive until 9:01, I would almost certainly have to pay for two days unless they billed in day fractions or I managed an earlier flight.
Boarding started around 9:50, well before the 10:00 PM time indicated on the ticket. By the time I boarded, around 10:00, it looked like almost everyone was on board and that we would be able to depart early. Oh, how wrong our hopes were. Several passengers did not arrive until the last minute. But the big delay was due to something freakish. As the plane started backing from the gate we well a jolt and loud thump. After some time, the pilot informed us that some sort of tow bar on a truck that was pushing (or pulling) us back from the gate had broken. As a result, they had to check the plane and replace the bar, and the upshot was that we did not arrive in Anchorage until past 2:00. Thrifty had closed by then, and so I had no choice but to camp out in a corner of the rental car area. Fortunately, I had anticipated this possibility and brought, in addition to the sheet I bought on Maui, my light blanket. I was able to use the latter to provide some cushion from the cold concrete ground and cover myself with the sheet, and all in all it was not that uncomfortable.
Before I chose that corner, I had wandered around looking for a row of seats long enough for me to stretch out. I never found them, but when I stumbled upon an earlier where there was construction, I was reminded of the film The Terminal.
Up at 6:02 and over to the Starbucks to wait for the sun to arise above a mountain formation that I was later told is a volcano. I watched Heroes while I waited, but I wanted to take my photo and leave as quickly as possible because of the looks the manager had given me.
A longer wait even at Henry Street, without getting photo I wanted. A customer sitting outside asked me about the photos, and I eagerly pitched the movie. Then I groaned when he revealed that, had I arrived the previous day, the parking lot would have been almost empty.
The next two stores were up the coastal highway, and the views were pretty sweet. Most interesting was the black volcanic rock visible during part of the drive.
During my driving on the island I noticed signs demarcating various areas called "districts". What is a Hawaiian district, exactly?
I missed an earlier standby flight by minutes again, but with more serious potential consequences. There were no flights between 1:00 and 3:58, which came as a shock to me, because I had made the mistake of assuming that there would be a flight to HNL every hour at least. As a result, somewhere in Japan, a young schoolgirl named Yumi inexplicably transformed into a donkey. And as a result, I face the possibility that I might not be able to visit all three new stores on Oahu in 2 1/2 to 3 hours (and 3 would mean cutting it close for my 9:00 flight). The problem would likely be Waianae, which, while only 28 miles from the airport, was also along a smaller highway that was likely to be congested during the rush hour. And that 3:58 flight would put me in HNL right in the middle of the rush by the time I rented a car.
I quickly put my error to the side when I saw how comfortable the seats in the lobby (downstairs from the actual gates) looked. They were perfect for lying down, and I settled in for some good sleep. But before I had a chance to fall asleep, I heard announcements that a flight to Honolulu was boarding, on an airline called Go! I immediately went into rush mode, heading over to the gate to see if there were seats. Yes, the agent said, but I would have to buy a ticket from the main lobby. I went back downstairs and first found the Hawaiian counter to see if my ticket was refunable. Nope, but I could use it for up to a year, as long as I cancelled it to avoid the $50 no-show fee. Of course I did not expect to return within a year, but you never know. Then I rushed back and forth, finally asking at information, to find the Go! counter. Nobody there, and a sign saying something would arrive 15 minutes after boarding!!! So I rushed back through security to the gate and explained to the agent, who called the counter and set up a ticket purchase for me. All the while I had been cursing myself for not having thought of taking another airline sooner. This was something that should have occurred immediately to me, a person who supposedly can think outside the box. Ten years earlier, I thought, I surely would have come up with a myriad alternative plans on the spot. But now, middle-aged, it appeared I was getting dumber, like Homer Simpson at some point during the run of the show (which some viewers think is when it jumped the shark).
Upon boarding the flight attendant had me sit in the back for takeoff, but as soon as we reached the correct altitude I moved to an empty seat in the first row (no 1st class on Go!, apparently). As we neared landing I put on my shirt and coat, uncomfortable though they were, so I could more quickly retrieved my backpack and deplane first. It was one of those planes that required deplaning onto the concrete outside and then walking to the building. Or, that is to say, trotting, for me, as fast as I thought I could without alarming security. I found the car rental shuttle area, and by coincidence Avis passed next, with cars available, so I made it 4 consecutive rentals with Avis in three days. Left the airport at 3:30 with 94 miles to drive.
I wasn't on the H-1 for more than a few minutes before I ran into traffic. I feared that the jam would last all the way to Waianae, but thankfully it let up after a few miles. Still lost more time though, at the store itself. It had just opened and was the only one on that part of the island, so it was apparently a novelty--there was quite a line. Additional frustration as I couldn't make the barista understand that I needed a sample and just ended up having to insist that she take my money for a short, most of which, of course, I poured out.
FUCK!!! Despite all the care I had taken to sort out the discrepancy between the store names on the Starbucks web site and the Starbucks Hawaii site, I missed one, Kailua Village, also known as Kailua Village Shopping Center. The upshot is that I drove all the way to the east side of the island for nothing. In fact, I hadn't needed to spend the extra $35 to take the earlier Go! flight--waste of money. In fact the whole trip to Hawaii had been a fiasco, planning-wise, and much more expensive than it needed to be.
Body two hours ahead, when the arriving cars of the Home Depot employees woke me around 4:00, I felt fine to get going. But there was no point. Starbucks not open, and pitch black. I had to force myself to try and sleep more. I wasn't sure where in the time zone Maui was, but it was almost 6:00 before the sky was light enough for any kind of decent photo. But grrr... it had started raining during the night, prompting me to exclaim in the old language, "ranet-yi pom shuu!!!. I killed as much time as possible in the morning hoping for sun, at the Wal-Mart, checking e-mail, and doing a radio interview.
Grrr... discovered that my the plug for my car power converter wouldn't fit into the HHR's slot (it did during previous rentals), which would mean I'd have to take the laptop into each Starbucks for charging. Since I only had six to go, I hoped that it would work out.
Mm... mm... mm... much better tasting scone than on the mainland.
Store too busy in Piilani, and manager looked too gruff, so I ordered a short coffee. $1.56--jeez, Louise!!! That's about the most expensive short anywhere in the U.S.
Pricier than I hoped for, but only by about $150 over what I expected to pay, and I really wanted those six Anchorage stores, so I went ahead and booked Alaska.
After 1 1/2 days of mental fatigure, I had started out the day feeling the love of Starbucking once more. But after queer looks and reactions at three stores, plus the frustration of having to wait for cars to move at each one, plus the inability to find out when the stores had opened, I was starting to hate Hawaii.
Finally! Score!!! No, no what you're thinking. Something much better than sex, and something I think I'd better keep from the prying eyes at SODO.
Well, after getting luck a few times with the standby flights, my luck finally ran out. Ultimately, it was the delay buying a soda and then a burrito that did it, and I missed the 2:03 flight by what must have been mere minutes. The time passed quickly, however, and I was soon on the plane, and almost instantly feeling like I had spent most of the last day and a half on a freaking plane, with no end in sight, especially with the addition of Anchorage to my itinerary. I also felt like I had spent the better part of a day and a half not knowing where the fuck I was, what time it was, what day of the week it was, who the fucking President was, etc.
Close call with Avis in Hilo. The initial printout came out at almost $70. When I asked why, the agent immediately said he could adjust it by using a multi-island code, bring the price down to $34--a very important lesson learned.
Visited three stores in the area, then drove around looking for food. Seattle on a Filipino restaurant, on something called "pork n peas"--I wonder why that never took off the same was tha tprk n beans did.
Only make it as far as Waimea and sleep for a while. At 1:35 drive to Kailua-Kona, and I find the weather considerably warmer--whereas in Waimea I had put on my thermal pants, I was able to take them off in the coastal city. Still, sleep was tough, and I had a headache most of the night, and dehydration. That usually happens when it's very cold, so I can't really say what the reason was.
Awoke at 5:49, 10 minutes before my alarm was to go off. I considered trying to cut it a little closer and sleep some more, but it's a good thing I didn't. It looked like I had plenty of time when I reached the vicinity of the airport, but on the the way I had realized that if my return flight arrived at 5:50, I probably wouldn't get out of the parking lot until 6:10 at the earliest, maybe as late at 6:30 with delays, and so I didn't want to enter the lot before that time and have to pay for an extra day. So I killed some time--but an unexpected distraction here, a breakfast there, and next thing I knew I was, if not quiet hurrying or concerned yet, not prepared to use up any more time. So when I discovered that SEA does not have economy parking like I expected, I was disappointed that I had not gone for the far cheaper options outside the airport ($9 vs $22), but even though it was not yet 7:00 and my flight wasn't 'til 8:35, I didn't want to risk any more delays.
Good thing, because their was a good-sized line to check-in at NWA, a good sized line at security, and I also needed to brush my teeth, clean my ears (those could have waited), buy some Chapstick, and buy another copy of Song of Susannah. Despite having had plenty of time, I had still forgotten things. The Chapstick, the small tube of toothpaste, which meant I had to discard the large tube. I had brought my coat, but I had forgotten to remove the unnecessary cap and gloves from the pocket. And all these omissions despite having traveled extremely light. No spare clothes, even--just a small towel, washcloth, and boxer shorts in case I was in a hostel room with women, though the pair of briefs I had put on were relatively new and didn't allow for bits to hang out. But farndangle it, I forgot to bring an extra pair of socks!
Anyway, I ended up cutting it pretty close after all, getting lost on the way to the correct gate, then having to take a shuttle train, and arriving past 8:00, when boarding was well underway. I sat in 33-C next to an elderly Asian couple, perhaps/probably Japanese, and the man spoke enough English to say "Good morning" and ask if I lived in Hawaii. I was on my laptop and wondering if he was going to think me rude, if that was what he was telling his wife, but it turned out not to matter, because the couple, and their friends,
Hey, that's pretty cool. A man seated a couple of rows back was talking about a Dean Koontz book he was reading, and then I looked to my left, and Dean Koontz, bearded, was sitting two seats down from me! Then I realized I was just dreaming--it was just the attractive brunette and her boyfriend (or kissing brother) sitting next to me. What was strange was that their really was a man behind me talking about Dean Koontz. So somehow I was able to hear and understand his words while dreaming at the same time.
The couple next to me turned out to be newlyweds, off to Hawaii on their honeymoon. I resisted the urge to say "I'm sorry." What was the point? Given that the man was popping a copy of Eragon into the portable DVD player, it was clear he was disposed to making poor decisions, like getting married.
The 757-300 OW airplane was the most cramped I could remember having ridden, excluding small propeller planes. The aisle was extremely narrow, and this became a great inconvenience about midway thru the flight when the lines for both economy-class restrooms extended past six people, maybe seven or eight. I had never seen so many people waiting in line for the restroom on a flight before. At one point, the front restroom freed up, but none of those in line for the back one noticed--I tapped one young woman on the back and let her know, but then I let the others fend for themselves. That line persisted for a while longer.
The flight was longer than I had expected, five hours. I had forgotten to put that apple in my backpack, and the breakfast plus PowerBar were not being enough. I started to get a headache, probably worsened by a bit of caffeine withdrawal. I had only had about 12 ounces the previous day. I had planned to have more with the Top Pot donut, but it had been closed. It's a good thing I waited until the end of the day to drink that last 4-ounce sample, otherwise my withdrawl would have been worse. Still, I had an hour before touching down, then 2 hours 'til my next flight, and then 37 minute flight plus time to get to that first store. I expected to be really hurting by then.
After a while the headache became bad enough that I had to take two pills, and when we touched down I decided to get some coffee at one of the fake airport Starbucks. There were certainly plenty of them to choose from, and I felt more than a little relieved about my decision long ago to only visit real (company-owned) stores. Still, the sample fake coffee, generously offered by the supervisor of a kiosk outside the main building, who had seen me on Unwrapped, came in quiet handy for easing my withdrawal.
I had considered trying to get to the Borders Ward Center location by taxi, but when the dispatcher estimate $35, one way, I quickly forgot that idea. I didn't really expect it to be cheap, and it's just as well, because I had thought my flight to Kauai was at 1:30, but was really
As stressful as it had been booking the flights to Hawaii, as soon as I saw the first Starbucks on Kauai, I felt this warm feeling of satisfaction coming over me. A little bit closer to my goal.
Okay, that's weird. Random roosters hanging out in the middle of a shopping development.
All three stores on the island turned out to have parking in front, requiring me to wait for the best photo. This waiting was in conflict with my desire to get back to the airport so I could try to take an earlier flight back to HNL, and then to Maui, on a standby basis.
Geez, even the cops wear Hawaiian shirts.
Made it onto the 4:55 flight back to HNL, and the next flight to Maui. Whew.
I waited too long to look for a hostel hostels.com found nothing, so I decided I needed an HHR. I had an Enterprise reservation, but they didn't have any HHRs, so I had to switch to Avis. For $30, using the HHR to sleep in was a great deal as long as I found a safe place. After a burrito and two Starbucks, I bought a sheet and pillow from the Wal-Mart and went to the Home Depot parking lot across the street, where an employee was iffy about whether they cared about overnight parking. He said the cop did patrol, but that I might be okay if there was no trouble. Seeing three other cars there, I took my chances and was not bothered. I did have to move farther back around 4:00 AM when workers started to arrive tho.
It was chillier than I expected. I had not brought an undershirt expecting to sleep shirtless, but I had to keep my t-shirt on anyway, which would reduce its life-until-washing. Even had to put my jeans, and, more disappointingly, socks on. I had hoped to let the socks air out during the night. Finally, the pillow, which was more expensive than the one I usually buy for $2.82, was too soft for my head, but this worked out because I was able to return it in the morning without feeling cheap.
At 5:17 the sky was already starting to lighten, but I needed more sleep. I went ahead and headed over to the Starbucks so I could warm the car, though it did not warm much in those few minutes driving.
At 6:30 I wasn't sure if I had slept enough, but I decided to get going anyway because the uncertainty of how much time it would take to to get to Wenatchee and crossing the border. Unfortunately, just as I was about to get ready to take a photo of the store, I man in about the biggest consumer vehicle, other than a Hummer, a Ram 2500, Big Horn Edition, pulled into the parking spot. I had to ask him to back up, and he did so despite giving me a suspicious or impatient look, but I screwed up and forgot to put the battery in my camera. When I went back to the car to get it, I guess the man lost his patience and pulled back into the store. I hoped he would get his coffee and go, but he sat down.
I couldn't be too irritated at the man, since he had initially moved, even if reluctantly. But he must have said something to the baristas, because when I pulled in front of the store to wait for him to leave, I could see them staring at me thru the window. That, I was irritated about, that the man had decided to be suspicious.
Around 7:00 another man walked into the store, and the first man turned to him. Not a good sign. Sure enough, the second man sat down and started talking to the first, I had the feeling they might be there a long while. Since the other two spaces in the building were still empty, I began to suspect construction, though I would expect a contractor to know better than to park right in front. Regardless, after another 18 minutes I decided I was cutting it to close and had to leave. Besides that new store, I wanted to reshoot four other stores, and by the time I finished up at Post Falls and calculated the distance, I knew I was cutting it way too close.
It was a stressful drive along US-2 trying to go as fast as possible but slowing down for every oncoming car until I could see it was not a cop. Regardless, the slowdowns through towns were enough that by the time I approached Wenatchee it was clear I wasn't going to make it. Once I got phone reception, I called to find out about changing the flight. Perversely, and a little obscenely, it would have cost over $800 to rebook onto the flight leaving out of SEA that I was going to take anyway once the flight arrive from Vancouver. So I had to go for 8:35 the next morning, for about $200. I wasn't happy about it, but it was better that missing my flight outright.
On the bright side, I had time to shave. I had neglected to shave as I rephotographed and visited stores in a hurry, and my face had been itching something awful all day.
Besides rebooking the flight to HNL, I also had to push back my flights to LIHUE KAUAI, Maui, and Hilo, another $105, making the trip total over $800--hideously expensive. If I did not end up reaching my goal of 99%, then that trip to Hawaii would have been a waste, and I'd be pretty pissed.
Mother bitches! I stopped to rephotograph North Bend, got the shots I wanted, and though I'd never have to go back there again. But as I left the parking lot, what did I see but a drive-thru coming soon!! AARRGHH!!! Why, why, why does North Bend need a Starbucks across the street from a Starbucks??? North Bend???
After sitting for a good while at Issaqua Meadows uploading photos and on hold with Hawaiian Airlines, most of the cars, except a fucking Hummer, cleared out of my photo all of sudden. I knew it wouldn't last, so I shot like a motherfucker from a variety of angles and distances. A young woman in a blue sweater, shoulder-length dirty blonde hair, maybe wearing glasses, attractive, asked "What are you taking a picture of?" I had no time to waste, nor even a desire to explain, so I ignored her. She stood there a second or two and hten kept walking. And you know what--it felt good to ignore the attractive woman for once, instead of the other way around.
Melanie was worthless, but I really needed that shower, especially before getting on the plane. Actually, the white kitten, badly in need of having its hair combed, was more interesting, despite the scratching.
Damn, but KEXP is a good station! Just the chance to listen to it some more takes a little of the sting out of having missed my flight. Fuck ClearChannel, fuck Infinity Broadcasting, and fuck that other mega company whatever it's name is!
Ooookay, three weeks about does it--time to change shirts. Actually, if I leave the funky shirt hanging for the three days I'm in Hawaii, maybe I can get a few more days out of it.
Aw, farndangle it! I knew I should have set that copy of Song of Susannah down next to that pole while photographing North Bend. Needless to say, I forgot it. Only reason I had it was because I had to wait for a stupidly parked car to move. Grrr...
Oh, no! I was all set to complete my plan to visit every Top Pot Donuts in the world, but the Wedgewood location closed at 6:00 on Saturday. Another disappointment in a long string of disappointments that day, and I felt mentally tired. So I took my take-out pork chops from Thompson's POV over to the Olive Way store and tried to engage the customers in a rousing chorus of "I Am the Happy Chicken Man", but they would not bite. And here I thought Seattlites were such a gay and jolly folk?
As a final injury that day, I had a shocking revelation!!! The Starbucks web site had listed the wrong zip code for a Spokane store, and my map had plotted it down by Walla Walla, causing me to miss it. In fact, I had passed right by it earlier that morning and thought about trying to rephotograph it, not realizing I had never been there. I was livid when I found out. Then I realized I had been to Spokane twice since the store opened! AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!! MOTHERFUCKERS!!! THAT MOTHERFUCKING CABAL WILL DO ANYTHING TO KEEP ME FROM MY GOAL!!! I HATE THEM I HATE THEM I HATE THEM!!!
Back to my usual spot on Battery St--I really need to write a book about the best places to camp-park (campark?) in cities around the country. One cool thing about the parking space I chose (of several in that row) was that, in the middle off the night, I woke up and raised my head, and thru the side window the first thing I saw was the shining Space Needle in the background and the bright neon of the Pink Elephant (car wash) just across the street. You don't get sights like that when waking up in most hotel rooms, buddy.
Alarm at 7:59 to move my car from the meter, with disappointment to see that my laptop had turned off before my Smallville download completed. But no time to worry about that--first order of business to head back to Pike Place Market and try for a better photo. Conditions were not ideal, but I will keep trying. Pike Place Market never gets old.
Second Top Pot, for breakfast. Still very filling, tided me over for a looong time.
Well, that's something I don't see every day, even at Starbucks. A man, perhaps young, perhaps not, with a face indicative of some condition like Down Syndrome, exited the Starbucks hurriedly and spastically, looking back as if pursued, and then Scrabbled toward the QFC. Odd.
In Edmonds, a traffic sign that reads "AVOIDING SIGNAL PROHIBITED"--what does that even mean???
After reshoots, reshoots, reshoot, it was almost noon when I reached the first new store of the day, in Lynnwood. I knew the manager was going to be trouble as soon as she said "Oh, I know who you are." It's hard to say whether it was contempt or disdain in her voice, but her tone was unmistakably negative. She did give up a sample, but with an attitude that made it seem like a great ordeal. I completely expected that she would not fill the sample cup, and I didn't even ask--I just bought a short. Nor did I give her a movie flyer--she would have just thrown it away. As a final insult, the bitch became the first in 2-3 years to try to prevent me from taking a photo despite knowing my purpose (in the U.S.). Of course, I had already snapped a photo, a bad one, very quickly, but she wasn't going to let me get a better one. Yet another negative Seattle-area experience, continuing the ironically odd pattern of shabby treatment in and around Seattle
@#$%^ Bothell QFC store--four attempts and I still can't seem to get a photo that I like!
Second off reaction in a row. This time the man in charge had been to my site and knew about the movie, but there still seemed to be something off about his demeanor. I had to wonder if it was me, my intensying headache and general haziness from fatigue.
My fatigue and headache had apparently done nothing to blunt my libido, because my reaction upon seeing the hostess at the Brown Bag Cafe was unmistakable. With all the blood rushing to one part of my body, I felt lightheaded and weak-kneed every time she leaned over. Even after paying for my biscuits and eggs, I chatted with her as long as possible, until some customers walked in, and I did my darndest to look her square in the eye as much as humanly (or should that be manly) possible.
Oh, goddammit!!! Because of the manager's tone at the Lynnwood store, I was distracted and forgot the three copies of the DVD I had taken. I didn't want to speak to her again, so I called the Terrace location and asked the assistant manager if she could have them transferred over, under the pretext that the store opened earlier on Saturday and I would want to visit early so I could get to Vancouver on time. Unlike the other manager, this partner was much more helpful, and about an hour later she called back to say the DVDs were ready and waiting for me.
Getting in and out of Moses Lake too much longer than I had hoped. The town was not directly on the interstate, and there was actually a rush hour across the bridge (a bottleneck) around 5:00 PM. Getting to Spokane before sundown would be iffy, but I need to eat, so I stopped at Inca Mexican Restaurant,"Best in the Basin"--okay, what's the basin.
A few hours later I came to regret waiting for that burrito plus all the reshooting I'd done. No, actually I regretted more that I had not headed out to eastern WA first like I had originally planned, in no small part because Orting had wanted me to wait at least 15 minutes (but probably more) for that coffee. The reason was that the new store in Ponderay was closing at 9:00, earlier than I would have expected for a Friday night. That meant I was going to be cutting it close, or not make it at all. Depended on how quickly I could get through Spokane. And that turned out to be not quick at all, because the Five Mile store was pretty far off the interstate, and the direct street to it was closed. All the while I worried about Ponderay, not even imagining that a Spokane store, Market & Garland, would close as early as 8:00 on a Friday. But it did, and thankfully the doors were still open and I didn't have to plead with the baristas.
But by the time I reached the interstate again it was clear I wouldn't reach Ponderay in time, and so I had to call the supervisor, and he agreed to leave coffee for me. On the bright side, my trip east had come just at the right time, because the new store in Hayden had opened that very day. Actually, I was a little disappointed, because had I known, I could have headed out east on Thursday and been the first customer on Friday morning.
Anyway, I lost an extra 5 minutes in Hayden because the store was on the wrong side an awkward intersection, and as I raced up US-95 as fast as the truck I was following would allow, I worried that the supervisor would renege, or that they would finish closing and he would take away the coffee. I didn't arrive 'til about 9:42, after a wrong turn, and thankfully the coffee was still there. Two, actually.
It had been days, maybe even a week, but the dizziness returned, during the drive up to Ponderay. Only mild this time, and didn't last long.
On the way back, spilled a bit of the comingled coffee from three stores on my jeans--not much, but enough that I had to take my jeans off and suck on them for a while to ensure I consumed enough for the prophecy.
It was around 10:30 by the time I got back to Hayden, and I wasn't going to get very far if I kept driving, so I decided to stay there and get better photos in the morning, of both stores. I parked as close to the old Hayden store as I could so I could finish downloading, and because that side of the parking lot was well-lit and completely empty, I worried that if I was still there after the Albertson's closed at midnight and all cars left, I'd be cop-hassled. But I only had to stay 'til around 1:00, I think, when my download finished, and I was able to move down to a quiet and dark residential street a block down from the new shopping center.
One silver lining in having stayed in Enumclaw--a pretty good breakfast from "the Kitchen".
Coincidentally enough, in this week's Lost, Sawyer walks into Kate's tent while he is changing, and he, too, cannot keep his eyes off her (more fully exposed) body. I can totally relate.
Oh, god, no! No, no, no, no, no!!! They didn't release a hip-hop version of Patrick Swayze's "She's Like the Wind", did they? They couldn't possibly have done something so absurd, could they?
Oh, that was a sweet moment. Waited maybe 10-15 minutes watching The Black Donnellys while waiting to upgrade my utterly awful photo of 176 & Meridian. I didn't think I was going to get a completely clear shot, so I was going to settle for one pickup in front (instead of two). But as soon as the second pickup moved, a lady pulled in with her burgundy minivan. I had to do it, I had to ask her to back the vehicle up, and just as she did so, the other pickup and the smaller car towards the end left. A completely clear shot!!!
12% grade on S 274 St... nice.
Oh, hey, "Bad Medicine"--hadn't heard that song in a while. Now it will always remind me of Phoebe aka Danger Girl.
Sweet views of downtown Seattle from West Seattle bridge and SR-99 northbound. Too bad no safe place to stop for a good photo.
I had been worried about visiting the new store on the 40th floor of the Columbia Center (Tower). I wasn't sure if there would be security. But my worries were for naught. The tower is much like a shopping center on the bottom levels, and the 40th floor is in fact a Sky Lobby. Photography was no problem, as visitors go up to the Starbucks to photograph the views all the time.
When I had reached Olympia and other areas near Seattle on Wednesday, I had not felt the glow, but once I got into the city proper I started to feel it, and once I hit downtown and started photographing... man, did I feel the glow big time. I just love Seattle and photographing downtown, so much that I didn't even mind the rush hour, it had been so long.
And before it seems that the buildings are all I love about Seattle, I have to mention the women. Oh, the women. So much better than L.A. women, and probably friendlier than New York women.
My best Seattle reception at Two Union Square, but there was a downside. The barista excitedly chatted with me, and then a customer who over heard also chatted with me, and then two guys stood in the doorway blocking my shot until I asked them to move. But it was too late, by about one minute. A ticket, $39. AARRGHH!!! I would have to have sold three DVDs to make up.
How and why is an alley closed???
Finally, time for Top Pot Donuts. I had planned to visit all three locations and have a donut from each, but after finishing that first donut, I knew it would be impossible--much too filling!
Finally revisited the Belltown store for a sample. For 7 years I had been haunted by the possibility that the coffee I spilled when I originally visited the store, before I was so diligent about going back to ensure I had consumed enough to ensure fullfillment of the prophecy.
I wasn't that hungry because of the donut, but I knew I would have to eat some more before bed, so I went ahead and stopped at Thompson's POV. They were out of meatloaf, so I had the oxtails. Really pricey, over $14, and the amount of the sides, red beans and rice, was relatively small. In fact, it seemed like a smaller amount than on previous occasions, and much, much smaller than what I would have gotten from a Latin American restaurant. I needed to find me one of those in Seattle, fo sho. There was another soul food restaurant in Houston that was pretty pricey--two, actually, and I had to wonder why it was that these restaurants, generally in underserved and economically depressed communities, were able to charge such high prices. The neighborhood, incidentally, must have gotten worse, because I saw more signs posted all around: "NO PUBLIC TOILETS"; "NO FREE WATER".
After a break to see Hitchcock's Spellbound at, of all places, the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI), I had to decide between leaving for eastern WA right away or camping out in downtown Seattle. I chose the latter, so I could wander around in the wee hours, and my decision was validated by excitement. First Sierra the presumably homeless young woman who was vehement about how she hated staying the night on Aurora because the people there drank too much--she wanted me to drop her off a bit south of the city, under the 99 highway. A different homeless person, sex not quite clear, used a new trick to get mine, and other drivers attention--he/she pointed down wildly at my tire, as if there were something wrong, and when she got my attention asked for money for the hot dog stand. There was also the mystery of the whether the ever-lackluster Lusty Lady had really moved to the west side of 1st 20 years ago like the old attendant insisted. I was sure that it had been on the east side 7 years ago when I worked for Microsoft.
But the highlight of the evening, and the reason I love big cities in the wee hours--where and when else could you see a barefoot girl in a sun dress lie down in the middle of the street, 1st Avenue to be precise. Good thing she was with a date, who waved a red handkerchief and lifted her up off the street after one car veered off upon seeing her. Though clearly drunk, the young woman was attractive--I really didn't want to see her squashed.
During the night it had started to rain, and I bemoaned the effect the clouds would have on my potential photo. When I got up at 7:30, the sky was still overcast, but I began to see a hint of the possibility that the clouds might break. I killed time at the store working on adding to my article, and when it became apparent that the white pickup truck blocking my photo was not going to leave quickly, I went inside so I could keep an eye on its driver (for when he decided to leave).
I glanced and the bulletin board, and sure enough my mini flyer had been removed. I wondered if it had been done by the morning crew, but I suspected it was the shift supervisor from the night before who had given me borderline unfriendly looks. My flyer's removal was particular irritating since the board only had two flyers and was more than 60% empty. Seemed almost spiteful to intentionally keep other customers from learning about a film that Starbucks fans would naturally find interesting.
Waited over an hour for the pickup to move before giving up, and then when I came out of the restroom I saw the man packing up his stuff. But it was irrelevant, because the parking lot was full, and moreover the drive-thru line was unending. I couldn't use the photo.
Saw nothing appealing for breakfast on the way out of town, so I stopped in at the Winco Foods. Wackiness ensued after a cashier informed me I had left my keys at the register. They had been taken to customer service, where any hope I had of impressing the attractive (but with a nose-ring, not to my liking) hippie-like redhead (maybe brownish-red?) faded into dust as I repeatedly dropped the apple I was juggling along with the banana and yogurt.
Tillamook brand yogurt. I didn't think it was bad, just not to my liking.
Just before getting to I-5 I passed Sunrise Bagel and decided to pop it. But the place looked to clean, to sterile, to trendy perhaps, and I quickly left. Can't really say why. Maybe it was the frat-looking boys in line, or maybe the flat panel television on the back wall, which seemedd totally out of place in a bagel shop. The young woman with the laptop sitting on a couch was attractive enough, but she, too, seemed out of place. Or maybe it was just the donut still sitting in my stomach signalling that I didn't really need more bread, especially since I planned to visit all three Top Pot locations in Seattle later that day.
Oh no, this is not good. Finally got thru all 13 tracks on MCC's new album, and I am disturbed to find a number of religious references that seem uncharacteristic. Did she undero some sort of brain-damaging experience since her last album? I would need to read interviews with her in the hopes that she would say that the references wreren't meant to be explicitly religious.
Oh shit, it took a second listen but I think I got it--MCC's "Houston" is about Katrina. I'm definitely getting slower in my old age.
An interesting sign along SR-305 in Poulsbo, "DELAY OF 5 VEHICLES ILLEGAL. MUST USE TURNOUTS". I would see the same sign along some other Washington highways.
Interestingly enough, given Howard's comments towards the beginning of the film, as I photographed the new Poulsbo store there was a Homeland Security agent in a large white kidnap van parked near the store.
Another subfriendly reception, in Sequim this time. That makes two days in a row that I have driven a long-ass out-of-the-way distance (like the Oregon Coast) only to experience less-than-desirable welcomes. In the big cities is one thing, because you can't please everybody. But it would seem that a barista would at least have to appreciate that a person drove all the way out beyond the boondocks just to visit the store. More and I more I was thinking of taking the monetary hit and visiting stores incognito, except that would have a dual impact on my finances because I wouldn't sell any DVDs that way. I had to face it, if I wanted to sell DVDs and make traveling money, I'd have to put up with the subfriendlies.
From Sequim I raced all the way back so I reach Orting and Enumclaw with some light still in the sky. I had to stop and reshoot three stores right along my route, however, and so I was completely surprised when I reached Orting, snapped some photos, and found their door closed... at 8:00!!! AARRGHH!!! Just 8 minutes late!!! I put an article up against the window, and a barista had heard of me, but she wouldn't open the door. Wanted me to wait until they finished closing. Oh, I'd heard that story before, from the evil manager in Yakima. I didn't really think these were going to call the cops, but I had to leave anyway in the hopes of shooting Enumclaw with some light. Road was too slow, though, and I didn't make it, so I ended up getting fucked all around.
Inside Enumclaw the supervisor seemed really interested in my mission at first. But she was hot. I mean, really hot. I mean, Playboy model, high-end strip club calibre hot. The hottest barista I had seen in 170 stores during that trip, and quite possibly since Boise back in November. Her blouse revealed just the tiniest bit of cleavage when she bent over to look at my DVD, and I felt something a-stirring down below. I told myself repeatedly, look her in the eye, look her in the eye, but the pull of her bosom was just too strong. She must have noticed my eyes darting down at some point, because her demeanor changed completely. Instantly, she became dismissive, and talked curtly, as if to indicate that she wanted me to leave as quickly as possible "Okay, bye now, have a nice trip." and such. When I went back into grab my camera batteries, her expression and voice turned unmistakably sour as she asked "did you take pictures in here." I said no, just of the outside, and she quickly replied "Okay, bye, have a nice trip." or something like that. Bugs the hell out of me, how an attractive woman goes through the trouble of putting on make-up and making herself look as hot as possible but then becomes upset when a man dares to look.
I had planned to head from Enumclaw to Yakima via lesser highways, a shorter distance, but when I reached the store I decided I was already feeling too drowsy. Wandered around looking for food, but the baristas were correct--the only places open, other than yucky fast food, were bars. So I went for a different type of dinner, from QFC--banana + Boltbouse Farms brand fruit smoothie +... Kit Kat.
Woke up to an alarm for the first time in a while, because of a radio interview. Should have let the call wake me, b/c I was still pretty sleepy from the previous night's wee-hour wanderings. After sitting in traffic, then in front of the now-remondeled West Linn store doing the interview, the morning proceeded to drag on and turn into afternoon before I had even visited the 2nd of two new stores. Reshoots consumed a lot of time, but much was also consumed writing an article for INeedCoffee.com. The words did not come easily--I felt blocked for some reason, despite the coffee.
On the bright side, the delays allowed for some sun to break through the yucky clouds so I could get better photos.
The manager at Nimbus recommended a restaurant down the street, El Tapatio. The way she described it, I was under the impression it was a combination Mexican/Chinese restaurant. I hadn't seen too many of those combo joints around and was curious. But when I got there, it appeared that the restaurants were separate: El Tapatio and Great Wall.
Had to stop working on my article before having a chance to revise because all of a sudden I face time pressure. I needed to head down to Wilsonville, where Hollywood Video happens to be located, to deliver a copy of the film to a lady who writes for an affiliated site, Reel.com. Alex or the publicist could have sent a copy, but I thought it advantageous to get it into her hands immediately so she could watch it and interview me before the release day. Unfortunately, by the time Friday rolled around, she had not yet contacted me, and I feared that she had decided to pass on an interview and that Hollywood would not carry the film.
I made my fourth and final Oregon stop for gas in Tillamook, and for the third time the attendant was female, white, young, and reasonably attractive. In all my time gassing up in New Jersey, where full service is also mandatory, I don't think I ever encountered a single female attendant. Unfortunately, this one had a really crappy attitude, and when I came back from the restroom I discovered the fucking bitch had filled the tank, $28.04 instead of the $13.00 I had requested, thus costing me somewhere around a buck (as the gas was cheaper in Longview, WA).
After my Tillamook stop I came up with a new word to describe the reactions of baristas who pretended to be friendly and appreciate my mission but really just wanted me to leave as soon as possible--"subfriendly".
A great view of nature, contrasted with an evil bulldozer in the foreground, primed to continue the destruction of the environment with construction of yet another unnecessary development.
At the Warrenton store, where the barista initially seemed curious about the film but then turned subfriendly, a group of young women was sitting around a table, and they were joined by more and more arriving, holding books. I asked it it was a book club, exclusive to women, and one replied that it was a Bible Study group. I quickly turned away and went back to sugaring my coffee. As I left, I was saddened that all those seemingly nice women were undergoing the brain damage that comes with religous indoctrination, and I wished I could do something to stop it.
Downtown Astoria seemed interesting, with restaurants I was curious to try out, and even a couple of strip clubs or go-go bars, Annie's Tavern and Desdemona. I had to pass them all up though in my hurry to reach the Longview store before sundown.
Another town named John Day? Who was this guy???
Heh, a cute combo, Coffee and Tanning, at a place called Some Like It Hot, in Clatskanie.
Bridge to Longview.
Reached the Longview store at 8:12 and began shooting immediately. A deliveryman might have been asking me why I was photographing, or he might have been talking on one of those Trek-like hands-free phones--I couldn't hear either way, and I just ignored him.
Finally found a suitable flight, not to White Horse or Anchorage, but back to Hawaii. Good, because I needed those stores to get to 99%, though I really wanted those 6 Alaska stores too.
Geez Louise, Mary Chapin Carpenter's new album had been out since March 6 and I had not been aware.
It took me more than an hour to book the Hawaii flights, by which time it was well past 9:00 PM. By the time I found some food in town (a donut), it was past 9:30, and I figured I might as well just stay there and get a better photo in the morning. I picked a parking spot along Commerce Ave, and I noticed what appeared to be the same cop circling around a series of blocks over and over. I also noticed "NO CRUSING ZONE" signs posted all around--not just downtown, but extending as far out as where the Starbucks was. In the middle of the night, when I woke up and drove around town, I only made one circle before finding a spot closer to the Starbucks, because there were plenty of cops, both Kelso and Longview, to be seen all around.
Up shortly after 7:00 and immediately rushed back to the Tire & Lube center for some tires. The Starbucks was conveniently located across the street (or is that the other way around). I was surprised to find T-Mobile so soon after its opening, and in such a remote location, and I ended up staying longer than I expected. But that's okay, because I managed to sell another DVD just by having them sitting there.
Jesus Christ how many fucking religious stations are there in this city??? Like every other one on the dial!
Blew through the two new Boise stores in a hurry to reach Prineville by sunset, but the sign for European Day Spa caught my eye. I had a good vibe from the young therapist available, and she was willing to offer a half-hour even though not on the printed menu. Good massage--she was much more accomodating than I expected. She goes on my list (though I don't expect to pass thru Boise much) but what was really interesting was the shower, unlike any I had seen before. There were a total of six nozzles, three on each side, shooting water. Kinda interesting, for a first-time experience. A little puzzling, though, figuring out how to turn the water off--turned out it was controlled by a key outside the room.
Wow, how long ago must that Sav Mor gas station have closed, to advertise gas at $98.9???
First gas after crossing over into Portland was in Baker City. Oregon mandates full service gas, and I'd gassed up in the state plenty of times before, but this was the first time I could remember young and attractive female attendant. Wowsers.
Started getting extremely drowsy, but I hated to waste the chance at shooting the store with some light.
Damn, I noticed too late that I could have exited I-84 sooner and taken a 20-mile shorter route via US-26.
View point on US-26.
John Day must have been a heck of a dude. I passed a town named after him, a John Day river, another town named Dayville, and the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.
What??? The Prineville store had closed at 7:30!!! Why, why, why??? I went ahead and set up the tripod and took some photos, a good thing, because as I did so I noticed a head moving inside the store. I called, and the barista picked up, and I explained my predicament. She had no problem selling me a DoubleShot thru the drive-thru window--no convincing was necessary. I still considered staying the night for a better photo, but then I realized that the store faced west, so I wasn't going to get the best photo until sunset anyway. So I left for Portland, a more fun place to spend the night anyway.
Felt fine for about half the 146 mile distance to Portland and then I started to feel the dizziness, but I lowered the window and managed to push thru most of it. When I finally spotted a rest area, about 50 miles away, I slept until about 1:30 and felt much better.
Became a little concerned when I passed a strange brown moving object that at first appeared an animal writhing in pain on the ground. But as I got closer, I could see that it was a horse, and as it got up it appeared fine. I'm guessing it was rolling around on purpose, maybe to scratch its back? Must suck not to have hands to scratch yourself with.
Over three hours after I left the Wal-Mart, I reached the Starbucks in Steamboat Springs. Yes, parts of the drive were pretty, but I had no longing to repeat the trip. After the long drive, it was a little disappointing that the assistant manager did not know who I was and expressed some incredulity at my story despite my having the DVD around my neck and copies in my hand. But the manager happened to be there, too, working drive-thru, and he had heard of me and seemed genuinely pleased that I had come buy.
A customer and the manager recommended a Mexican restaurant named Azteca's downtown, but when I passed a place calling itself "Freshie's" and serving breakfast, I decided to give it a try. I liked the vibe of the place, in addition to its name--the waitresses seemed attractive enough, but not in an Abercrombie & Fitch kinda way. I did notice, however, that the clientele appeared all White, with the exception of one young woman who, as I expected, did not consider herself "Caucasian" and gave me a strange awkward look when I asked her. I figured she might not appreciate my question, but sometimes you have to break a few eggs for blogging accuracy.
Holy cow, a night speed limit in Colorado! I thought only TX had those.
Passed the town of Wamsutter--only relevant because, when I worked for Input-Output, the big survey we were preparing for was in Wamsutter.
Cashier at the Exxon said a bar-b-q place was pretty much my only non-chain food option at the Rock Springs exit where the Starbucks was. Didn't feel like bar-b-q, so I went with something easy and hoped it wouldn't be too yucky, Pizza Hut.
I was really drowsy as I headed to Evanston, and I wondered if I would make it without a nap. Just out of curiosity I calculated the distance from Evanston to SLC, and I was stunned and tickled to learn it was only 80 miles! That was the best news I'd had in days! I was so used to the long ass drive from Denver to SLC that it hadn't occurred to me that I had already burned a lot of miles on the way to Steamboat Springs and then Rock Springs. I soon passed a parking area, and it was very tempting, but with just 64 miles to Evanston I decided to push a little farther. I was surprised to see yet another parking area maybe 20 miles down the road, and I almost pulled in, but I told myself I can always drive 40 miles in daylight. I'm... not... that... old!!!
Goddamn kids!!! Doing 85 MPH+ on a winding mountain downgrade. Even I'm not that crazy!
Sweet view of the mountains on the approach to SLC.
Rushed into the new SLC store in a hurry to get out and get up to Logan before the sun set, but the store was fairly empty, so a couple of customers overheard me telling the baristas about the film. They say the DVDs in my hand, and after asking some questions decided to buy one. My first sale to non-baristas!
With that delay, reached Logan before sunset looked really doubtful, especially since I had to get off interstate. So when I spotted the Peruvian El Chalan, just a few blocks from getting on the interstate, I figured I might as well get some good grub even if it meant spending the night in Logan.
Another sweet view of mountains, heading north on I-15 this time.
As I neared Logan it looked like I was still going to have light. As I cleared the mountains and hit the valley, with nine miles to go, it was clear that I was going to have light, but I suddenly wanted more. The Peruvian meal hadn't been more than blah, and I was really regretting those 10 minutes I lost, which would have made a big difference in availably light. I finally rounded the curve into town where the highway became Main Street, an from that point the remaining miles were agonizingly slow. Between the speed limit, the traffic, and the red lights, I could almost see the sun setting minute by minute.
At least I go ta decent enough shot that I could move on towards Pocatello. Starting the day there would increase my chances of reaching Portland by Monday night. I like spending the night in Portland--many fun and interesting memories.
Rest area conveniently located about 15 miles south of Pocatello. I slept until about 2:07 and then headed up into the city and drove through town. Almost completely dead. Only excitement was a couple of cop cars around some car that had been sitting in a parking lot. But when I circled around, they were gone--no arrest, no beat down.
Interesting. I received an e-mail stating that the sender enjoyed the movie (and giving advice on finding cheap accomodations), but unsigned and coming from the e-mail address dvdmovie1. Now, it's possible that the person did not have an existing e-mail address, or, more strangely, actually used dvdmovie1. But that's unlikely. I have to guess that the person created the e-mail address in order to hide her identity. Which begs the question--what is it about me that was so scary? And was that perception mostly created by the movie, and not my in-person demeanor? Prior to the film, I received plenty of e-mails from people I had met at stores, baristas and non-baristas, and none had created fake e-mail addresses. So it must be my portrayal in the movie, then?
I wasn't sure if the Wal-Mart Tire & Lube opened as early as 7:30 on Saturday, so I slept until 8:07 before rushing off to Lakewood. Stopped to reshoot 16th & California, and also the cool Sheridan store in Edgewater where wackiness ensued. As soon as I pulled into the parking lot I noticed a duck looking at me. In that second or two a lady pulled into the parking lot. Fearing she would park in front of the Starbucks I started running towards the store shooting wildly trying to get a good shot. When I finished and glanced at the lady's face, it was apparent I had startled and/or frustrating her as much as she frustrated me with her untimely arrival.
The duck came, presumably, from the lake that sits opposite the Starbucks, offering a great view!
Oh, foo-blubber! As interesting as wandering up and down Colfax always is, I must have cruised too long because I overslept and did not reach the Wal-Mart for my oil change until close to 9:00, and wasn't out of there 'til almost 10:30, which means I lost many hours of the best light for my reshoots.
The reshoots dragged on as I found myself waiting at many stores for cars to move so I could get a better shot. It looked like I was going to burn the entire day, but since I was still thinking about how to handle that Prince George opening on the 26th, I didn't mind killing time. But all I had to eat was an apple, banana, juice, yogurt, donut, and power bar, and by afternoon I was getting lightheaded. I was holding off on lunch because I had a craving for a hot dog from Mustard's Last Stand. I finally made it, around 4:00, and the food helped, but my headache persisted for a different reason--withdrawal. I had made the mistake of drinking the coffee from that last store the night before instead of saving it for the morning. That meant I was at about 19 or 20 hours without coffee, and I could feel the withdrawal headache setting on fast! When I finally got up to a new store, in Thornton, and had that coffee, it was a great relief!
Comic break at Borders.
Reached Johnstown just in time to catch some good light, and then I rushed across the highway to the Centerra shopping center to see if I could catch Disturbia. I was 45 minutes too late, so I went to look for dinner, at a place called Biaggi's recommended by a barista. I ordered the spaghetti and meatballs, overpriced at 10.99 (+ tax), and I gave the waitress a twenty. Then I gave her two more so she could give me a ten back as change, but she thought it was a tip and kept it. That fucking bitch, I thought! It wasn't bad enough the spaghetti cost $12, but she wanted a $2 tip on top of that for taking the order? Fuck that, I thought, and just asked her to cancel the order. No way was I going to ask for my money back and then eat whatever food was brought back, with who knows what type of spit or filth in it. What a waste of time, made even worse by the tight parking situation. These assholes didn't help.
This was cool, though.
Did not want to start the drive to Steamboat Springs that late and then risk tiring out and not finding a place to park, so I hung out at the Starbucks 'til almost 10:00 and then headed over to the Wal-Mart Supercenter.
No no no no no!!! NPR reports that a class of drugs that had become ineffective against gonhorrea in Hawaii and California has now been declared ineffective throughout the rest of the country, leaving just one class of drugs for treatment. That really sucks. If bacteria become resistant to that last class of antibiotic, I'll have real worries. I might have to restrict my extratesticular activities to high school and college virgins exclusively.
Halfway decent biscuits from the Donut Shop Plus, and then I was on my way towards Glenwood Springs, after a stop in Rifle to reshoot and to do a radio interview. Pretty store in Glenwood Springs, and a very congenial manager. Good sun too, though that changed as I continued west. At least there wasn't much snow, though, I was not much delayed and was able to meet the folks from Mania TV about when we had planned (after rescheduling, that is). As if the 16th Street Mall didn't have enough stores already, I passed yet another coming soon one.
I had meant to eat after the Mania interview, but then, after an overcast morning and early afternoon, the sun decided to come out, and I had to suffer my hunger for the chance at better photos--had a ton of Denver area-reshoots to do. Started getting lightheaded, though.
I was not actually in the mood for a burger, but when I passed CityGrille on Colfax and saw the banner advertising the "best burger in Denver", I decided to put that claim to the test. But when I walked in and saw a sign for a deluxe burrito, I quickly changed my mind. Couldn't have it, though. For some reason that the bartendress could not explain, the burrito was not available to go. Strange. But the burger did not disappoint--no sirree! I had to say, damn, that's a good burger.
I had already given up on finding a massage after sunset on a Friday night, but at the last minute Mila called me back. After finishing my reshoots I was able to head over there for an 8:30 appointment. I was expecting that would give me enough time for an interview with INeedCoffee.com, but Alex did not call until about 8:35. Still, Mila was able to take me as late as 9:00, and I made it just in time for a pretty darn good massage. She even cut me a break by offering me a half-hour rate, which she said she didn't do.
Just stayed right where I had parked for the massage, in front of what seemed a combination office and residential building on Logan, next to a dumpster. Dumpsters are great for blocking people's view of the back of my car.
Usual late-night wanderings along Colfax--always people up and about at all hours and the occasional blare of sirens and cop cars speeding off in some direction or another. This time the center of attentionw was the gas station at Colfax and Colorado, with about 4 cop cars there. Fun stuff.
Up at 6:05 expecting that by the time I finished watching Lost the sun would be out, but the episode was not up yet! Curse the bones of the ancient elders, I said! At least I was able to watch Friday Night Lights, or most of it, until the sun peeked out over the hills. But my photo was marred by a car parked in front of the store. It was odd that the car was there because there were no customers in the store, and the Baja Fresh wasn't even close to open that early. Later, just as the sun peeked out, I learned that the car belonged to a barista. For shame--baristas aren't supposed to park in front of the store!
Heh--that's pretty funny. I finished rephotographing the Main & I-15 store and got back in my car to hear the XXX (Lenny Black???) skit about the two Starbucks across the street from one another.
And something else unusual and amusing, a combination Chinese restaurant/donut shop.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram interview.
Oh, hell yeah!!! The Producers in Las Vegas starring... David Hasselhof! It's soooo too bad I have to reach Denver my morning and will have to miss it.
Serious storm blowing into town, with winds strong enough to blow dust all over the place, including my eyes and even into my car. Touchpad ended up all gritty. But I was more worried about whether the storm would slow me down, as I was running out of time to reach Denver.
Third new Las Vegas store in a shopping center still under construction, and with construction trucks marring my photo. Damn, Vegas, you growing too much!!!
Snow as I neared I-70 on I-15, and then some of I-70. And how I was soooo hoping not to see any more snow for the rest of the year.
AARRGHH!!! After wating years for the right moment to make the long drive to Prince George, a third store appeared on the locator, but I finally called and learned it won't open until the 26th!!! That's about a week too late, unless I somehow kill time, like by flying to Hawaii and Alaska and playing Scrabble or something. Grrr...
Whew--thought that cop was coming for me. I was following a guy, and we couldn't have been doing more than a few miles faster than 75 MPH, so my guess was he saw me glancing down at my laptop screen. But after a tense minute as he picked up speed and caught up with the group, he ended up pulling someone else over. In Richfield at the gas station I asked the older man I'd been following if he had noticed why that other guy got pulled over, but neither one of us had any idea.
Rushing to try to reach Denver, so I had to go for the first few available, KFC. Nasty as ever.
Wasn't quite dizzy and disorientec as I reached Clifton, as it was only about 8:30 Mountain, 7:30 Pacific, but I could feel that I wasn't going to be able to drive another three hours. Since I was probably going to miss my 8:00 AM interview, I figured I might as well stay in the area and get a day photo. I thought it would be quicker to head to the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Grand Junction than to drive around Clifton at such an early hour to find suitable parking, but when I reached the Wal-Mart a sign prohibited overnight parking. And it wasn't a Wal-Mart rule, but rather a city ordinance. Bah. Thankfully, there was a side street not too far away next to an apartment complex and theater.
Well, foobers! Up at 6:35 to the chirping of pudgy black-feathered little birds hopping up the hill I was sleeping next to. I rushed off towards Sonora in the hopes of reshooting the two old stores, plus the new store, in the sweet morning sunlight. Only after a short while, when the rain drops started hitting my car, I realized that, once again, the morning was overcast. And my hopes that the clouds would part were dashed by the radio report of more rain.
Finally had a chance to stop at Sue's Angels Creek Cafe, that I had I made a mental note of the last time I rolled through Angels Camp. Unlike most cafes I'd been to that served biscuits, the menu at Sue's explicitly stated that you could have toast or biscuits with the standard egg breakfasts.
Grrr... drove right past the new Oakdale store, not quite yet open.
Oooookay. Today's lesson is: Hot coffee poured onto the open wound on your thumb = bad!!!
11 days since last laundry, in Houston, and I finally had to break out a fourth pair of socks. The first pair had reached toxicity several days earlier, but the second and third had remained below the odor threshold for longer than I expected. By throwing a fourth pair into the mix, I was sure I could get one or two more days out of #2, and #3 was going to be good for many days yet.
Barely reached Victorville in time to reshoot several stores while there was still like, and then visit the two new locations. It was almost 8:00 by the time I finished, and I wouldn't be able to reach Henderson before the Starbucks closed, so I figured I might as well pop into the some strip club that didn't seem to have a name, just "Gentleman's Club". Well, after just a couple of minutes I decided the place didn't deserve a name--it was too much of a dive even for me. Grabbed a quick burrito and sped up the interstate, wondering if I would escape the dizziness that night.
To the best of my knowledge, only one store in all of California I hadn't visited!
Oh, but that burrito was nasty! I think they put all types of yucky sauces in there. Let's avoid Los Ranchos in the future. When I got to Barstow, I parked near a Starbucks so I could continue downloading, and as I was getting ready for bed I saw a black cat prowling about. I don't like animals, or cats, but I had not yet dumped out the rest of the burrito, so I said what the hell. When I opened my window, the cat scurried away, but as soon as I threw the food out onto the pavement it must have smelled it right away, because it came slowly creeping back. First it nibbled up the bits that had spattered, then it started on the main part of of the burrito. But hours later, when I woke up and checked on my download, most of the burrito was still there. Now that's a nasty burrito, when not even a cat will finish it.
No disorientation that night, but something different. I'd felt it earlier in the day, a sort of pit towards the back of my skull. Maybe this is normal, except it hurt when I put even a little pressure in the pit. Later, in the middle of the night, when I woke up, just slightly touching the pit stang like heck. I really hoped it was just a pimple, and not something dangerous.
More dissatisfactory service, this time unrelated to my project. I was just hanging out at the Davis & Stevenson store watching 24, and when I was ready to leave I went to the restroom first and left my water on the table. Barely a minute, I'd say, and the water was already cleaned up. I asked for another, and the barista who had taken it apologized, but when I tried to explain that I had complained about this before, another barista became defensive and then dismissive, wholly unresponsive to my concerns.
Sold my first DVD, whoo hoo!!!
After reshooting Duckhorn I missed my exit for the next store, but it worked out because I stumbled across the Uptown Cafe (and Pizzeria), a little bigger than a hole-in-the-wall, but with that definite type of feel and charm. While I looked at the menu I made eye contact with a strange little man eating at a table. He said hello, a strange act from somebody dining, to say hello to a stranger. Couldn't get a read on the guy, so I just avoided looking in his direction. Biscuits were decent, and home fries, with cheese and onions, were, as promised, good (even though I don't like onions).
Something different at Arden & Morse--not a barista, not a security guard, but rather the property manager questioning why I was taking photographs.
It had only been three days, so I could have gone a few more without a shower, but with a possible three days before reaching Denver, and no places on the way that were likely to offer good massage choices, I decided to see what the Euro Spa I passed on Arden had to offer. $30/30 min was a good deal, but they were busy. So I stopped at their other location, not far off the interstate in Rocklin. The massage was just okay, nothing to write home about, but what was really disappointing was the pricey nature of the oddly-named Italian cafe (Strings). $11.80 for spaghetti and meatballs. I made a mental note that Rocklin was a pricey area, but with no more stops to Reno, I had to eat.
Oops!!! Forgot about that 4:30 interview--should have skipped the massage and spaghetti so I could reach Reno in time. Just lucky that I had phone reception in Truckee.
Back in Flag City I had mentioned to the manager that I planned to hit Sonora later that day. A customer overheard and warned me that SR-108 was closed. My shortest route was actually SR-4, but when I got to Reno I checked the Cal-Trans site anyway and discovered that the pass along 4 was closed, so I had to take 88, 20 miles longer. Later, when I actually reached California, there was a big sign alerting drivers to the closure of Ebbetts Pass, so I wouldn't have gotten stuck anyway.
It was barely 8:00 PM in Carson City, and I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep for hours, so it was with trepedation that I headed out towards Sonora. I knew the drive at night along the curvy hilly highway would be rough, and sure enough it was hard to focus at first. But at some point, while listening to Fresh Air, and after lowering the window (and turning on the heater), I regained my focus, and I didn't have any trouble all the way to Jackson. It was 10:00 PM by then, and I didn't want to push it, so I looked for a place to park. Jackson was very small, and no parking spaces seemed suitable, but just on the edge of town I decided to try this side road, and I found a row of cars parked next to some industrial area.
6:50 and overcast. How can this be??? Three overcast mornings in SoCal ruining my photos, and now an overcast morning in the Bay Area!!! Curses!!!
Hah!!! Another example of the Starbucks everywhere effect, as the new store in Union City, at Mission & Tamarack, happened to be at the very same apartment where I regularly went to get a massage while working in Hayward. Same thing happened back in Houston, where a Starbucks opened less than a mile away from where I had worked for six months. Rule of thumb--if you wait long enough, a Starbucks will open nearby.
NBC turned out well--first, I got on their live mid-morning news, and then we taped a segment for later than evening and the weekend.
One of the segments on NBC11's mid-morning newscast for Monday's was called "The Quills" and featured local booksellers discussing current books. One of the day's offerings was a book called Thermopylae, relevant, I suppose, because of the recently-released film 300. After the segment, a lady named Kathy took the bookseller back to the "Green Room" to pick up his books, and then she took me over to the studio to wait at a table. I was amused to find on the table a small piece of paper on which the bookseller had written some notes about what he would say--"Democray - not, totalitarinism, not. Monotheism - not - Axis."
From San Jose I had to detour through San Francisco to pick up 50 copies of the DVD and then drop off the poster at Alex's. I had rushed as much as possible, but of course I caught a lot of rush hour traffic eastbound. By the time I made it to Benicia, Brentwood, and then a backtrack to Vacaville, the sun was setting. No rush to get to Sac-town at that point, so I quickly checked movie listings and learned Grindhouse was playing a mile or two away. I rushed over there and was able to pick up the film almost right where I had left off on Sunday night. Afterwards, the street across from a Starbucks in same parking lot, Davis & Stevenson, was suitable for parking and downloading.
Nothing really special about the random taqueria in Antioch where I ordered a flauta, except that I received a $2 bill as change--cool! I think I will keep it.
Rush to Scrabble tournament.
From Scrabble I stopped at Dorsey's Locker for a vegetable platter (trying to consume less meat) and then rushed to Alameda (catch the evening light) and then Century Landing to see Grindhouse. Mistake. I shoudl have known better than to see a movie like that, that attracts young audiences, at a ghetto cinema (any cinema where many patrons talk thru the movie). After an hour of that crap I left and exchanged my ticket for The Hoax. Only a few patrons--none talking. Then I headed over to my park in Fremont, the one where I slept for weeks until I was able to move into a rented room close to my Hayward job. No rabbits.
Oh, come on!!! This is Southern California, so why has every single morning been overcast??? I couldn't sleep past 6:26, so I headed to the old Cajalco store and killed time waiting for the sun to burn thru some clouds. By 8:30 it still hadn't happened, and I got restless to get a move-on.
Unlike the previous three days, the clouds did not part, and the entire day was overcast, thus marring countless photos.
Random pancake craving well into the afternoon, triggered (and satisfied) by Flappy Jack's.
Finally scored a great massage, though I had to backtrack a bit, to Corona, but it was totally worth it.
Racing up the 101 towards Ventura, 8:00 PM and dark, but no dizziness. Wow!!!
Checked losthatch.com again, but still no info on the song playing in the bar when Kate bought Cassidy a drink.
At 9:34, just before crossing the Santa Barbara County line, I felt my first hint of dizziness. The feeling increased, and at first I was not sure if the winding nature of the highway helped or hurt. Later I decided that it hurt, especially trying to keep up with an SUV doing 80 MPH. Shortly before reaching the rest area an additional factor was added, gusts of wind. I had been unsure of whether I should try and push the additional 40 miles to Santa Maria, but the effect of the wind on my car, and the resulting effect of that on my ability to focus, prompted me to pull over.
Dreaming, rabbits, bunnies, doggie (real?), explosion, plane crash, interview face
At 7:05 I felt ungachungaschlish, and the reason was clear--I had only had coffee from three new stores the previous day. I wanted more sleep, but the rescheduled interview was in 10 minutes, so I bucked up and rushed over to the Starbucks so I could do the interview from there.
Yuck, yuck, yuck, still an overcast sky in the morning.
In sharp contrast to Downey, the staff at the new Paramount store not only left my flyer up, but they highlighted the release date and web site info!
My camera caught the attention of some skateboard punks outside a store in Redondo Beach. One of them glared at me, while another said something I couldn't understand. I shouted back, I wasn't photographing you. "Are you sure?" he retorted, and I said yeah. I had to resist my natural inclination to tell him to mind his business because, as long as I was holding an $800 camera, I was in a vulnerable position. Even if I managed to set my camera down to defend myself in case he came at me, the other kids would most certainly take the camera. It seemed like a no-win situation to pursue the aggressive approach unless I carried a weapon, and this would introduce the possibility of trouble with the police.
Pollo Grill, not so good chicken.
Oh, great. As I crawled towards the CBS studio wondering if I would arrive by 5:30, I was far from heartened by the sirens of a passing suburban with the words "BOMB SQUAD" on it. Still, I made it in time, though the segment itself was far from exciting. I just hoped it helped sell DVDs. One of the publicists, though, was hot!!! I think maybe that's why the camerawoman had to shoot me from the waist up.
With only 20 ounces of coffee in two days, by 6:00 PM I was really starting to jones. Expecting heavy traffic east on I-10, I had hoped to catch The TV Show at one of the nearby theaters to kill time. But it wasn't playing 'til 7:30, and I didn't want to wait that long while my headache worsened. So I decided to brave I-10, and I was amazed to find almost no delays out to my exit in Pomona. Wow!!!
Interesting. As soon as I crossed the San Bernardino Count line on Mission Ave, from Pomona to Montclair, there were two massage places right away. Different laws, maybe?
Okay, I'm really hating those fucking black SUVs with the white hoods. Black plus white = cop in my mind, and it's just wrong to be driving around looking like a fucking cop.
Okay, that is the third time I've heard the expression "Wait for it." in the past year. First was in Superman Returns. Then in an episode of Justice League, which actually precedes the film by years. Is this expression becoming trendy?
Down in Corona I had my worst customer service experience of the trip so far when the supervisor dismissed me with a wave of her hand and told me to wait on the other side of the store. She was down on the ground, presumably in front of the safe about to count money or something, and she was basically telling me that I looked like I was about to rob her, that I looked like a criminal. I didn't even bother to wait and explain who I was. I just pulled out money and asked for a coffee. Since they didn't have any brewed, I grabbed a DoubleShot and tossed three bucks on the counter, saying I wanted to leave as quickly as possible. Of course, 30 seconds later I was back in the store to retrieve my camera battery, and as I left again a different barista came out apologetically with a drink coupon.
Across the interstate from the next store was a Wal-Mart. Not a Supercenter, but open all night nonetheless. But for some reason the lights and the traffic, cars driving thru the lot, prevented me from sleeping, and I left. I went back across the freeway and found what appeared to be relatively new residential areas. I wandered around a bit before finding a suitable space, and I noticed more rabbits than I had ever seen in my life. They were all over, in yard and out on the street.
Hmmm... I wonder if there will ever come a time when I see the sign for I-10 West Santa Monica and not think of the Everclear song.
Interesting. A different type of blueberry scone at the 26th & Santa Monica store.
Yuck. Another overcast morning, although that did give me an excuse to hang out in Santa Monica waiting for light and watch Friday Night Lights.
Took me a long time to update my site and catch up on other stuff, so much so that I was in Santa Monica until noon, by which time the sun had come out. Finally! Time to catch up on dozens of reshoots. L.A. being L.A., I suppose that I should not have been surprised when two people thought I was a papparazzo and asked who I was photographing.
After three days of seraching in vain for a suitable masseuse, I decided I really needed a shower and went to some Thai massage place on Melrose along my Starbucks-reshooting route. The coupon in the L.A. Weekly was slightly deceptive--the $35 was for the Thai massage, not for Swedish. But the girl gave me a $5 discount off the $50 price. Still, for $45 I got a damn good massage, and a loooong shower that made me feeel huggable again.
By lucky coincidence there happened to be a Colombian restaurant a block from the massage place, La Fonda Antioquena. Unfortunately, the steak and chicharron were far from the best I'd had.
Make that three people--this one straight up asked if I was papparazzi.
Turns out using most of the day to catch up and reshoot photos worked out just fine, because the publicist set up an interview with the local CBS affiliate, huge in a market as large as L.A. But they couldn't shoot until 5:30 on Friday, so I would have some time to kill.
After my lack of sleep Wednesday night, I called it a very early night on Thursday, around 9:00. My parking space was a first, next to an oil derrick! And this was just down Long Beach Blvd from the Starbucks, on the other side of the 405. Who woulda thunk it?
Yuck. Overcast sky, ruining the photos I was hoping to take in the morning.
After almost two weeks of more-or-less constant rushing with only brief respites, I finally had plenty of free time in my schedule to sort of relax and catch up on the 70+ e-mails that had been building up in my inbox. Oh, I had responded to most of them, but I had not had time to properly categorize them and make sure I'd addressed every issue. Anyway, it felt food to catch a breather.
With the extra time, I was able to wait at the Mission Viejo store for the supervisor to make me a French press. Not that I cared about the coffee, but I figured obliging him would give me additional opportunity to talk up the film.
Did not manage to clear the OC before my hunger started to overwhelm me, so I wasn't going to be able to make it to Versailles for lunch. I stopped in at El Pollo Loco in Santa Ana, and I waited in the drive-thru line only to learn they would not have chicken for 20 minutes. Bastards!!! I continued to drive, and the yogurt, banana, and apple were fast wearing off. I was really feeling the effects of the coffee, and I wasn't even at 10 yet for the day. I finally spotted another Pollo Loco, but I got confused about the drive-thru line, perhaps because it had been intentionally painted the same shade of yellow, and I ended up ordering from some local Mexican place called Alerto's by mistake. But it was okay--for $3.77 it was a mighty decent burrito. Not great, but adequate.
No love in Pico Rivera, where the baristas didn't even wait 'til I had left before taking down my Starbucking mini-flyer. As I got back into my car I saw one of them go around the bar to where the bulletin board was and then look down at something in his hand as he walked back to the bar--pretty obvious considering the look that the supervisor had given me when I described my project.
I ended up not being able to visit all the stores I wanted to before having to rush up to Burbank for my radio interview. I had mixed feelings--on the one hand I would have to backtrack to those stores on Thursday. On the other hand, I had needed the break anyway. 13 days of feeling rushed was starting to take a toll on me. While I sat in the lobby of AM 1150 (and other stations), one of the receptionists started talking to the other about the British sailors captured by the Iranians. She had many of her facts wrong, and it was clear she was not an avid follower of the news. Sadly, she is probably typical of the predominantly ignorant American public.
From the studio I rushed to the Scrabble club in West Hollywood so I could get as many games in as possible. I also managed to get another player to invite me over to his apartment so I could watch Lost.
Afterwards I hung out next to a Starbucks in Pasadena downloading until about 2:00 AM, having trouble sleeping the whole time. Cesar had mentioned that Pasadena prohibited parking on the streets without a permit after 2:00 AM. I did not see a sign along the section of Fair Oaks where I had parked, but I wasn't sure that that made me safe, so I waited for my download to finish and moved on.
Up at 6:36, and the presence of T-Mobile at the Cortaro store allowed me to start watching Monday night's 24 while checking e-mail and updating my site. I was torn between finishing the episode and reaching Yuma earlier.
Dammit, missed a radio interview cause I left my phone in the car!!!
However, I did get a chance to do a little bit of promotion when a group of district managers on their way to a meeting in Phoenix recognized me and asked to take a photo. Of course I gave them a flyer and asked them to spread the word.
Oh, gosh darn it! Bush is going to be in Yuma next Monday, but I'm passing thru today. And I had soooooo wanted to meet him. So sad.
Left Cortaro much later than expected, past 8:00 AM. I hoped to make up the time on the highway, but it was not unexpected that I had to drive an hour at 75-80 MPH before a car blazed past me that I could follow. I would have kicked it up to 85 by myself except that the white car far ahead of me looked like it might be a state trooper, and I did not want to get close enough to see.
No Horizon yogurt at the Wal-Mart, so I tried Blue Bunny, also low fat, instead. Awful.
Wow! The route to the new Chula Vista store sucks hard. A big chunk of Proctor Valley Rd, outside the Chula Vista limit, is dirt and gravel!. I mean, it's good that there's actually undeveloped land around San Diego, but it's sad that it will soon be ruined.
I met Greg at another new store near Chula Visata to deliver the Playboys, and then I rushed downtown, still hoping to make my massage appointment after visiting three more stores. At the Horton Plaza relocation I had the misfortune of trying to take the photograph just as a very odd man was in front of the store. He came over and said he was a traveling monk and then started going on about how coffee was bad for people. When I said that I really needed to take my photograph and go meet somebody he replied that I looked stressed out and needed to relax. He asked if I had tried time management. Unfortunately, I could not walk away from the loon, because he was in my way for the photograph. So I had to keep saying "thanks for the advice" over and over until he finally left.
I had called Roosevelt & Rosecrans for directions, because my map indicated that it was on a Naval Station, and it turned out the station had closed and was now a new development. Parked right in front of the store was a puke green/brown Crown Victoria that read "PUBLIC SAFETY". I wasn't sure if that was security or some type of law enforcement, and I wondered if the baristas had guessed that it was me and called it in. Of course I was just being paranoid, and the baristas actually turned out to be fairly excited to meet me.
Took me much longer to meet Greg and get to the stores I needed to, and I ended up missing my massage appointment, with the nicest girl of the ones I'd spoken to in SD (and that wasn't very many, b/c for some reason few people were returning my calls, just like in Phoenix).
While heading to 30th Street. & El Cajon I took a wrong turn, heading the wrong way on Washington, and I took that as an opportunity to reshoot a couple of stores. Just one, actually, because the original Hillcrest store, much to my surprise, had closed! Just a week earlier, and it wasn't just I who was surprised, but several other patrons who had directed me to where the store used to be. Oh, and the kicker--it's being replaced by a gourmet coffee shop. The Starbucks effect in reverse!
I popped into this Spanish restaurant in Hillcrest, but the menu was too fancy and there were no lentils to go with the rice dishes. The host mentioned a Caribbean place and a Cuban place nearby, but I could not find them. Sun setting, I finally headed over to the 30th & Cajon Store. My map showed a couple of soul food restaurants nearby, but both appeared to be closed. Dang, I was striking out both on the food and the massage fronts. With the freeway just a few blocks away, I finally gave up on Latin food and went into Tioli's Crazy Burger because the sign, and a bunch of review articles on the window, said it was a good burger.
About 7:20, not quite dark yet, and the disorientation started. Not sure if it would have started anyway, or if it was a combination of the high rate of speed (80 MPH) and the
I went back into the store in the morning, and the manager, who recognized me from the older store, was much nicer than her supervisor had been. Hung out for a long time waiting for some heavyseat scruffy dude with glasses to put down The Tender Bear and move the white GMC that was blocking my photo. About 30 minutes later the man finally got a phone call and started to leave. I grabbed my computer and battery charge and started to rushed off... and had to stop myself as I realized my electronics were still plugged in. I managed to catch myself before I yanked them out of the outlet, but somehow I managed to lose my balance. Keeping the laptop from falling was my priority, and I ended up taking a pratfall that amused and concerned half the patrons. I reassured them with a quip, "that's why I don't play sports." Undeterred, I rushed to my car and backed it up right after the GMC, parked in a nearby spot... and witness a small grey car pulling in. I rushed over and knocked on the window and quickly explained to the lady that I had waited 30 min for a picture. She was on the photo and a little startled, and then she shook her head and said no even before I finished speaking. Then no again, so I just rushed off and took my picture. That lady immediately earned a spot at the top of my list of candidates for the "Most Selfish Bitch of 2007" award. Her plate is Georgia, 9389QF, BTW. If anybody out there knows how to look this up, please send me her address so I can send her a nasty letter. Actually, better yet, please send her a nasty letter for me. Don't send me her address. Because if by some coincidence she gets smacked around for being so selfish, I don't want to be a suspect.
On a brighter note, Malone's, recommended by the Starbucks manager, made a pretty good fried-egg bagel sandwich, plus had Wi-Fi to boot!
The highway south from Flagstaff involved a steep descent, 6%, enough to put uncomfortable pressure on my eardrums. As I listened to music, I noticed something for the first time, that the base seemed to be more muted than the treble.
Better luck rephotographing Prescott--the kind lady was more than happy to pull her car back. But then at the new store, another dismissive barista, and with a vicious stare. And, I hate to say this, because I support homosexuals, but I seem to remember getting the most vicious looks from apparent-homosexuals in response to my quests. This is just the ones that were dismissive, mind you. And of course I can't say for sure that the barista was homosexual. I myself have been thought gay by many people throughout my life. Perhaps I misread him the same way that I've been misread. Regardless, I don't think I misread that vicious stare.
Outside, I experience a rare treat in the form of a customer who saw me with the camera and purposefully did not park in front of the store. Of course, there were several other cars there blocking my shot, and the sunlight at 11:00 AM in Arizona was bright enough to wash out my colors anyway, but I appreciated the gesture. Wish the guy hadn't seemed a little weird though--felt kinda bad thinking that since he'd tried to do me a favor.
What the hell??? Why am I tossing money away? For the second day in a row I lost money to the wind--this time when I yanked my jeans from the back of the car to put them on. And this time i definitely lost big bills, maybe even 30 bucks!
When I had left California and headed to the East Coast, where there are no Safeway stores, I had completely forgotten the Organics brand yogurt. This puzzled me, that I would go a full six months without the image of that yogurt, which is very good. Seriously, something is happening to my mind. Furthermore, as I was leaving the Safeway I dropped my money again. At least I was inside where there was no wind, but I had to worry. Dropping money, dizziness, losing my balance--I felt like I had just turned 70, not 35. Either that or I was suffering from the onset of some neurological condition.
I hit Surprise around 1:00, and the radio reported 88 degrees at the station, presumably in Phoenix. Didn't feel anything like 88. Down it Phoenix proper it was definitely warmer, but 88? I know the dry heat feels cooler--I've been to Phoenix and Las Vegas countless times, but it still felt cooler, and I was glad for it. Not that I wasn't sweating like a pig and driving around shirtless, mind you.
Traffic already seemed heavy even at 3:00--it looked like I had blown my chance to beat the rush out of town. So I decided to see what a couple of the strip clubs along Grand were like during the day. Teasers still had the $5 chair dances, but there were only two girls. Several customers left for that reason. I was able to get the attention of one quickly, and she was more than decent-looking enough to make a $5 dance worthwhile. Then she went on stage, and rather than wait I headed down to the Alaska Bush Company, where I was stunned to learn that the dances in the afternoon were also $5. I wouldn't have expected this because the girls there are hot. The $5 dance was so worth it I could have gone on and on, but the dancer went up on stage. I got the attention of another and tried the $10 VIP dances (plus $10 to get in). It's not that the VIP wasn't worth it--far from it. Much better for $10 than at most clubs I've seen. But not really worth the extra money over the $5 variety.
I visited the newest store at 4:30, and since I still had not gotten calls back from any of the massage therapists I had contacted, except one who charged too much, I decided to go sit in horrible rush-hour traffic for a few hours--I would at least be able to get a day photo of the new Tucson store and perhaps get some dinner from Irene's, if they werre open (no guarantee).
Fuck. 6:04, sun still in the sky, plenty of sleep the night before, but yet the dizziness started.
Oh... my... god... I'm really losing it! I passed Arizona Pavilions on the outskirts of Tucson and saw a STARBUCKS COFFEE sign. I immediately went into panic mode and desperately called the Ina store to see if Arizona Pavilions was licensed. The barista insisted all stores were company owned, and I had to correct her. She gave me the # for P, and that barista insisted the store was company-owned but could not tell me when it opened. I had already backtracked 1-2 miles and was about to pull into AP when I looked at my database and photos and saw that i had indeed visited, in Dec 05. But i had no memory whatsoeever of ever having done so. I'm going senile!!!
Passed The Loft on Speedway and considered popping in to see if the ower/manager was there and pitch the film. I quickly decided that would be a waste of time. He had already failed to respond to my e-mail, and the thing of it was, theater owners probably made the right decision not to screen Starbucking, because we just weren't marketing it in such a way that attracted big crowds. I had thought Sonoma, with 100 or so people, would be the norm, but perhaps they were the exception.
Darn it, Irene's closed, or they changed their number. I didn't want to go all the way downtown to find out and then not be able to find decent food before getting on the interstate, so I just went over to Ten's for a bit, had my fill of fun, and then found El Charro Cafe on Speedway as I headed back to the interstate. While I placed my burrito order I looked back through the kitchen door and almost did a double-take. In profile and from the back, some guy, Pancho maybe, looked enough like me that I thought I was looking in a mirror. He passed by me a couple of times, and I was instantly reminded of the images of myself from the film. Which, incidentally, don't really look like me to me. That Starbucking film dude looks like somebody else.
Managed to stay awake enough to finish the burrito, but I quickly started to fade after that. Rather than pushing a great distance, over an hour, to the rest area, I stopped at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Cortaro.
As I had hoped, the Tire & Lube Center at the Wal-Mart in Los Lunas was indeed open on Sunday, a relief for me because the car was already at 4,000 miles, and by the end of the day I expected to have driven another 500+. While picking up some groceries I noticed Horizon organic yogurt for the first time at the Wal-Mart. But hours later, when I finally got around to eating it, I could not bear the taste. Don't know if it was because it was the lowfat variety or because it had been sitting for some 3+ hours.
I fared no better a the Range Cafe, which had been recommended by Jeff from the Fountain for its biscuits. I may give them another try--perhaps the biscuit will be better fresh.
Oh, they almost got me! I was about to start some fast and furious blogging about a dumb-ass NYC politician trying to regulate cell phone rings, but before I got to it I realized what day it was.
A bunch of reshoots, two new stores in Rio Rancho, and then off along a route I had not really wanted to every drive again, along US-550 to orthwestern New Mexico. But it wasn't that bad, really, a bit scenic actually, and pretty fast. I soon reached Bloomfield, and then Farmington, where the supervisor reacted in a rather unusual manner. She was really into the coffee and wanted me to report on the Komodo Dragon blend as if I were doing a coffee tasting. She also wanted me to take a coffee passport. I tried to explain that my project was not about coffee, and this seemed to irritate her.
Oh praised Siren, thank you! I found the photo of the Rt. 4, Englewood that, for months, I thought I had missed. I had been really worried about that store and even considered trying to find some original baristas from the store to recreate a pseudo-experience. But the photo was there all right, unlabeled, and I could hardly contain my sense of relief.
Wackiness in Gallup when I stopped for food and gas. I was in shorts, so my cash was in hand, and when I put my shirt on the wind blew the money out of my hands. It was a strong wind, I despite my speed I was not able to reach the bills before they got to the street. I had to wait for cars to pass, and by that time the bills had reached the other side of the highway and I lost track of them. Had I known for sure they were singles, I would have let them go because I was in a hurry to reach Flagstaff before sundown. I finally found three bills, all singles, and I wondered if I had lost any 10s or 20s.
Much worse that losing the money, however, was the food. That Church's in Gallup had to be the worst fast-food chicken I had ever had... ever!!! The chicken was rubbery, the fries tasted like styrofoam, and the biscuit was tough. Awful!
Jeez, this is getting troublesome. Only 7:00, not dark yet, not tired, but experiencing vertigo. I struggle to understand why at the supposedly young age of 35 I'm having this difficulty driving. After 310 miles, the last 100 of which had been very difficult, it was great to encounter a supervisor in Flagstaff who gave me the "Chinese coffee torture". That is to say, she repeatedly failed to fill the sample cup to the requisite level while at the same time giving me an impatient and unwelcome look. Then, while I was paid $1.54 for the 1/8 ounce of coffee that I needed, she still continued to make me feel very unwelcome.
Since I didn't reach Flagstaff in time for a day shot, I decided to stay the night. I figured I'd try out one of the local strip clubs. But I assumed too much, that there was even one in town. The Internet did list one, on San Francisco St, but when I got there and found the address it turned out to be a bar called The Joint. Oh, well, I thought--I'll just catch up on sleep. I parked nearby, and as I laid down I wondered if the music from the heavy metal show would wake me. Wasn't a problem, but the cars parking and leaving were a bit of a distraction.
Woke up at 3:05 restless and started to drive around downtown. I had always thought of Flagstaff as a big city, so I was surprised at how quiet the streets were. Just when I had decided the town was dead in the wee hours, I was surprised again to spot a woman walking along the road. I offered her a ride, and she was a little strange, the way she had me go to several locations looking for a bag she claimed to have left with a friend, but in the end she proved the principle that a woman who is willing to get into a stranger's car is more likely than not to be adventurous.
At 5:00 I decided I felt well enough to drive, and seven minutes later (after eye drops, de-beddification, and defrosting) I was on my way. 10-20 after that I was already struggling to stay awake. About an hour later I pulled into a picnic area, but I was not able to fall asleep immediately. I figured I could sleep for another 1-2 hours and still reach Mesilla by 1:15 (with the time change), but I didn't want to waste time tossing and turning. So I kept driving, and it was a constant struggle to stay away and keep my eyes focused on the road.
Even when a fast-moving car finally passed me and I was able to follow, its taillights barely helped me focus on the road. The 2+ hour wait for the sky to lighten was agonizing, and when it finally did I was sorely disappointed to discovered that the light was not helping me stay more alert. Finally I decided to kick off the remainder of The Black Donnellys. I usually avoid having the video on while on the freeway because it can make me disoriented, but in this case the video actually woke me up, and I was fine for the rest of the drive. And with latest episodes Friday Night Lights and The Riches also on my laptop, plus the 80 MPH speed limit upon hitting Kerr County, the rest of the drive went by much faster than during previous trips.
Foodwise, pickings in Fort Stockton were slim, so I settled for one of the few things that I will eat from the evil McDonald's, a biscuit sandwich.
On the outskirts of town I passed the Comanche Motel... and Hostel! I was very surprised to see a hostel in such a small town.
As I entered the El Paso city limits, around 10:30, I spotted a strip club, "The Red Parrot", with a sign advertising "NON-STOP GIRLS". But the parking lot had all of one car, so I guess they stopped after all. Deceptive advertising!
I reshot three stores in El Paso, several on Mesa St. Along the way I thought had I lucked out when I spotted JB's Cafe, but when I finally got back on the interstate I discovered I had been snookered--they gave me an English muffin instead of a biscuit!!! Bamboozled!!!
After the disappointing turnout in Nashville, and perhaps because of the rush to get to Mesilla, I had not built up the same degree of excitement and anticipation about the screening there. For that reason, the 40 filmgoers we got, which looked like a lot more in the much smaller auditorium at the Fountain, seemed like a success to me.
I'm sure the two articles, one in the college newspaper and another the the primary paper, helped bring some people out, and I couldn't help but wonder what some press could have done for us in Nashville.
One thing about the Fountain, though--the audience skews heavily older (and Anglo, according to the guy in charge). I doubted that any of them would either buy the DVD or blog about the show. But older people tend to have more children and grandchildren, and maybe they would mention the film to family members.
About the only youngsters that showed up were a group led by a scruffy goofy-looking dude, maybe even drunk, who had tried to open the outside door about 30 minutes into the show. I asked if they were here for the show, and he replied, with a confused look, "what show. Um, uh, no."
Contrary to my preconceived notion, the predominantly elderly crowd seemed very interested in my quest, and Jeff had to eventually cut off the questions so we could get into Black Gold. After the show we walked to a local Mexican restaurant. Because of the press, Jeff had been expecting a larger crowd, and we speculated as to why. Those who attended seemed to enjoy the film, and I couldn't help but think that if we could just give people the correct idea of what the film was about, that more people would come out.
Jeff had to get back for the screening of Curse of the Golden Lotus, which I was curious to see but too tired. I took off to reshoot a couple of stores, and after I had dawdled a while waiting for that perfect photo it occurred to me to call a nearby yellow dot, Ruidoso. It had opened!!! And I had barely enough time to reach it, so once again I found myself rushing, rushing, rushing. Before I lost phone reception I callled the store and asked them to save me coffee, but it turned out I need not have worried. US-70 moved very quickly most of the way, and in fact the speed limit kicked up to 75 MPH around the White Sands Missle Range.
Even before I reached Ruidoso it had started getting hard to focus, but US-380 was not very far away, so I gave it a go. I definitely could have made it to US-380, but the additional distance to the first rest area on I-25 was a stretch, so when I saw a roadside park I decided to pull over. Sometime between midnight and 2:00 AM I think, I awoken by the sound of a car. It was sooned joined by a couple of others, and from the sounds of it, they were kids. I decided to leave in case they decided to mess with the car, though by the time my windshield defrosted they were gone. But I was awake and felt fine to drive, so I pushed on to that rest area on the interstate.
11:05, finally left the house in Houston, but actually getting out of Houston was an ordeal. First, I had to do my homey Michael a solid and drop off some comic books, and this took me out of my way and caused me to hit soooo much traffic. Not that I wouldn't have hit traffic anyway. Add to this several missed exits, plus the distraction of an interview with a Savannah paper, and I cleared Katy much much later than I had hoped.
Added to the delay getting out of Houston there was the discovery that two coming-soon stores near Austin had opened that day, plus one three weeks earlier, meaning I had a total of four to visit. On top of that, Ilse managed to squeeze me into her schedule, and I couldn't pass that up. Finally, I had a craving for DoubleDave's that took me out of my way. It was 8:32 before I finally set off for Mesilla, with 628 miles to drive. 621 if I took a highway shown on my map as cutting from I-35 to I-46, SR-46. But even though seven miles shorter, would it be fast enough? As soon as I exited I-35 and saw the construction, I decided that it would not. Maybe in the future, though since the highway skirts the edge of New Braunffels, I expect that traffic will increase to fill up the extra lanes.
As I drove through San Antonio, I wondered how far I would get before the dizziness started, but then I realized I had another problem. I had actually seen the lighting 15-20 minutes earlier, but it took me that long to realize what it meant--storm!!! Sure enough, the radio confirmed that a serious thunderstorm, with hail, was heading east. I quickly pulled over to inspect my map, and I was relieved to learn I-10 would take me in a northwesterly direction out of the city. If I moved fast enough, I could miss the storm.
I did indeed escape the path of the storm, but I could not escape the dizziness and disorientation. I was losing the ability to focus, and it was a struggle to drive 85 miles to the rest area. When I stopped at 9:50, I was a little worried that I would not be able to drive fast enough in the morning to reach Mesilla in time, but it would have been dangerously foolish to continue.
Dang, still no T-Mobile at the Starbucks in Huntstville. That makes at least two times I've pulled off the highway in vain.
Quite a bit of ground to cover around Houston, from far north to the south side, and by the time I reached the center part of the city and reconnected with the Buffalo Grille, I was might hungry for those biscuits, bacon, eggs, and cheese. Death for my heart, but mouth-watering. And then when I reached the house in Houston, first Lost, then home cooking, pig's feet, mm, mm, mm.
No time to rest before heading out to reconnect with Treasures, where I was a little disappointed to learn that, as a dancer put it, Thursday was the new Friday. The place was packed, which made it hard to get the attention of (desirable) dancers. By the time I got home it was very late, and my chances of leaving early in the morning were pretty slim to none.
Up at 7:25 and feeling better, but for some reason the DoubleShot I had saved gave me a queasy feeling. Not a good feeling; otherwise, the Eagles would have written a song about it.
Distance signs read "STILLWATER Y30". Never seen such a designation before. Could only assume it was indication that the freeway split, like a Y.
SON OF A BITCH!!! When I labeled my Memphis photos I discovered I had missed Houston Levee & Winchester! Why??? Because the dot was on the wrong place on my map--waaaaay off, in Georgia! At first I thought I might have accidentally moved the dot myself while scrolling the map, but after replotting all the stores I learned the true reason. The zip code had been entered on the Starbucks store locator as 30817 instead of 38125--big difference. It appeared that the nefarious Cabal was at it again, and with a new tool in its arsenal of tricks intended to keep me from visiting every Starbucks. Curse you, evil Cabal!!!
A worrisome development on the way to the Edmond store. The song "Twist and Shout" came on, and I found myself wholly unsure of whether that was the Beatles or not. This is, of course, ridiculous--you can't possibly confuse the Beatles for anyone else. Unless... dementia, caused by finally turning 35, was setting in.
Now that's something I don't see every day. An old man, in overalls, suspenders, and a straw hat, standing on the side of I-35 south of OKC with his thumb out. Had I not been hauling ass so I could get to Houston by the time Lost aired, and had my car not been packed full, I might have stopped. He didn't look dangerous. But he also looked frail enough that he might have had a rough time scrunching into the passenger space with two cases of Tradewinds in the way.
THE VET license plate. Not sure why he speed up to pull in front of me and slow down, then sped up when I tried to pass, but it wasn't long before he stopped whatever it was he was up to.
Meanwhile, on the radio, a reporter was asking random people on the street who Alberto Gonzalez is. I'd say a surprising number did not know, except that the number is not so surprising. Just sad.
On the way to the new Euless store I made a quick stop to "deliver the ginkgo", if you know what I mean.
At Cooper & Park Row one of the baristas commented that she wished she could do something like my project. I replied "there's nothing stopping you." "I have a baby," she said. After asking her age (22, much too young!) and that of her baby, I told her that she would be free to do anything she wanted at 40, still a young age, provided she did not have another child. I purposely restrained myself from inserting "screw up" in that sentence. Regardless, the smile faded from her face, and it was clear she did not appreciate my assessment. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why procreation must be regulated. Humans, most of them at least, tend not to make rational, world-beneficial, decisions about procreation.
At 7:32 my head felt like it was in a vise. But I didn't feel sleep or groggy in the slightest, so I got a move-on in the hopes of reaching Tulsa in time. I took two cold pills immediately, and then I followed them up with two fake Excedrin for good measure.
Oh, nasty! I sneeze-coughed a thick glob of yellow-green phlegm onto my steering wheel. Because the wheel vibrates at high speeds, the effect was that of an undulating slug crawling downward. Yuck.
Outside the new Bartlett store I saw three white pills on the ground. My first thought was to wonder if they would help ease my symptoms, but I took the better part of caution and left them alone.
Holy mackerel! A Crescent City Beignets in Memphis??? I was about to shout out, like Flava Flav, "Yeeeeah boooyeeee!" when I pulled in front and realized it was actually just Crescent City, a New Orleans-themed restaurant. Darn it. But at least they did have beignets on the menu, so I had to give them a try.
It had to happen--I finally spilled the kiwi juice as I was moving the cup from between my legs to the cup holder. Thankfully, most of the smelly liquid landed in two of the three cup holders, and I was able to soak it all up with socks, briefs, and a shirt and then tie them up in a plastic back to keep the odor sealed in. I mean, it's already my car--I don't need to mark it as my territory.
Learned a new term at the Jacksonville store "blue collar rush". Apparently those workers get out at 3:00, not at 5:00.
My first donkey sighting! Along US-62.
Well, just when I thought I'd seen every kind of barista reaction to my Starbucks project, along come a surprise. Hard to describe
The big day in Nashville, and with my inconvenient cold/flu, I hoped to get as much sleep as possible Sunday night. But with a lot of caffeine in my system and general anxiety over the screening, I was lucky to get nearly 8 hours.
For some reason I had printed way more mini flyers than I could have distributed to even all the Starbucks all of Tennessee. So I did that really annoying thing of putting flyers on cars all over the place. I'm always irritated when I find some stupid flyer on my car, but I guess I can understand now.
After more than five years, I finally had another sit-down breakfast at the Pancake Pantry instead of to-go. The pancakes did taste better fresh, and they were just as filling as ever--went right to my gut!
The Belcourt Theatre, site of the first official commercial theatrical screening of Starbucking (not counting the festivals).
Hey, will you look (listen) to that--George Strait just covered Kelly Willis' "Wrapped". Sure hope she made some bank for that.
After a couple of soft tacos from S.A.T.C.O. (San Antonio Taco Company), I headed over to the 21st St Starbucks to wait until the Belcourt needed me. The cold pills I had taken seemed to have little effect--my nose continued to run. I added some Nyquill into the mix, even if it meant I wouldn't be able to drive too far west from Nashville after the show. And then, just for good measure, a fake Benadryl.
I headed over to the Belcourt at 6:40 with nervous anticipation of how many people would show up. Only four in the auditorium when I arrived... not a good sign. Thankfully for my sanity, as I sat in the lobby I could hear people buying tickets for Starbucking. Every time someone bought a ticket for The Host I thought "D'oh!". I had thought tickets would be $7 + $1 service fee, but they were actually $6 + $1, which meant we had to sell 84 tickets across two shows to break even, not counting the $42 for the poster and the $3.49 for the poster tube and the shipping for the DVD.
Only 21 for the first show, and I found myself hoping we could just sell 42 total and at least get half the money.
Just 12 in the auditorium at the point that the film started. Ouch. Not a good sign. Losing a good bit of money on this little adventure in wackitude. But there was one positive note--the partner who had been kinda not really dismissive the previous night showed up and explained they had just had had a bad day at the store. So it wasn't any attempt Starbucks part to quash knowledge of the film locally, but it was still disappointing that an e-mail never went out to the local partners. Or that if it did, that nobody seemed to have seen. The barista did tell me that he had heard people thinking the film was like Super-Size Me, and I wondered if there was anything we could have done to keep that preconceived notion from getting out.
I waited out in the lobby during the second screening, and the wait was agony as my pain worsened and my nose continued to run. But I made it, and the Q&A seemed well-received. No sooner did we finish than I took off, stopped at Jimmy John's for a plain slim, and rushed west to the rest area 38 miles away, fingers crossed that I would have the energy to make it.
Holy shit that was scary!!! Less than 1 miles from the rest area, I felt my entire body "spasm" like I was going to lose consciousness involuntarily. The whole event lasted for maybe a second, but during that time I felt genuine fear that I was not going to be able to stop myself from falling asleep.
Rest area prohibited overnight parking, but when I woke up at 2:05 and saw both the van and the sporty black car still there, I figured I might as well stay. I asked the restroom attendant if the troopers made people leave after two hours, and he said no. Still, shortly before 5:00 I felt well enough to drive 40 miles to the next rest area. Didn't want to overstay my welcome.
Got up around 7:37 and noticed the sky was light, but the sun not yet peeking up over the Wal-Mart. I went inside for groceries and to give the sun time to get higher. While paying for my groceries another cashier yelled out--"Hey, stop that man!!!" I tensed up and got ready to sprint and tackle somebody, but it quickly became clear that the man had just forgetten one of his grocery bags. Nothing to look at here, folks.
I supposed it was no surprise that, given the proximity of the race track, half the patrons were wearing either NASCAR or Dale Earnhardt t-shirts. But the ducks out in the parking lot--I'd never seen such a sight at a Wal-Mart before. I like ducks. They remind me of a group that used to hang out around the bayou behind the house in Houston, and how my grandmother used to go out and feed them.
While I waited for cars to clear out from the drive-thru lane so I could photograph, I noticed an SUV with "JUST MARRIED" on one window and on another, "BRISTOL BOUND BABY!". I had to assume that they were from even more rural territory where there are no Starbucks, and that for them moving to Bristol was like moving to the "big" city.
Hey! Shirtless dude! See, I'm not the only one, so quit starin'.
8:34 as I drove thru the "other" Bristol, in TN, and all along US-11E, on the way to the racetrack I presume, were folk hawking tickets. Farther down I started to see people walking down the highway, and then I noticed something new to me... "race camps". Dozens or hundreds of RVs camped out near the racetrack. I was glad I had gotten up when I did, because as the morning dragged on I figured that highway would be backed up all the way to town. As it was, I did see a slight slowdown when I passed right by the track, but it warn't too bad. Much worse was the sight of all those George Bush supporters all in one place, many the type who would fight to the death against any attempt to change the status quo and solve the world's problems.
Momentary confused as I approached an intersection that read "TO I-26". My map didn't show I-26 anywhere near Johnson City. The closest stretch was down in NC, in Asheville. Man, I needed a new map!
A sneeze and some soreness in the back of my throat.
I hit I-81 at exit 57 at 9:38, and traffic was backed up for a mile in the other direction, plus the distance to the speedway exit. I considered myself lucky that I had only been delayed a few minutes.
Before heading down to Alcoa I stopped in downdown Knoxville, Market Square, for a huge biscuit from Tomato Head. Had been a good 2-3 years since my last visit, and it looked like all the remodeling had been finished. Saw a black fence peppered with flyers, and I put one up for Starbucking. Promotion, promotion, promotion.
As I continued on towards Chattanooga I was possessed by the strange urge to listen to the theme from the old cartoon, Underdog. I'd have to try and download it.
Internet cafe on University in Huntsville--don't see too many of those in the US anymore.
On the way out to Athen I stopped at Showcase Showgirls where, in the 18 months since the first time I visited, either the dance fee had gone up from $20 to $20, or my memory had gone completely to hell.
No doubt about it--definitely sick.
What the heck are those creatures? Otters? Do otter hang out on the roadway?
Coffee County, TN--heh.
8:20, and I was really feeling the sickness despite the cold pills. My nose was running continuously.
The previous week I had called the local training center to see if they could get word out to the partners. The message had been relayed to a district manager who called me and seemed genuinely interested in helping get the word out. Thus I was disappointed when none of the Nashville-area stores I visited Sunday night had heard of the film screening. I finally encountered one, on West End not far from the Belcourt, but vibe I got from the barista was dismissive. No... that's not the right word. Not dismissive. Maybe... awkward. Like maybe he had been told I was coming and told to humor me but not put up any flyers. Hopefully just my imagination.
Adding to my disappointment, none of the radio or TV stations I had e-mailed had gotten back to me about an interview. I was extremely grateful for the blurb in the Nashville Scene--that was about the only thing that was going to get anybody out to the Belcourt.
Slept past 7:30, longer than I had hoped, but the rain and drizzle that had persisted thru the night offered little incentive to crack-o-dawn it. At least my photo of Winchester was halfway-decent, making the trip worthwhile, though I was miffed to learn that a couple of new stores would be hitting the area over the summer. Shoulda expected it tho.
From Winchester to Rockville I had a choice of routes of equal distance, either back down route 7 and the toll road to the Beltway, or via US-340 and US-15 to Frederick. I chose the smaller, untraveled (by me) road, in the hope of finding some good grub, and sure enough I ran across John's Family Restaurant right away. I mustered the best southern accent I could manage as I asked the waitress if I was far enough south to get biscuits. Mmm..., biscuits! Hadn't had biscuits in a good while.
I skipped the bacon with breakfast. Now that I had turned 35, it was time to cut out more of the fat, cholesterol, and other yumminess.
Blah at Rockville Town Center, but I was amused when I returned to my car to hear Click n Clack talking about sleeping in cars.
One last task before I left the area, to make absolutely sure that two new stores listed had not actually opened. No phone # listed yet, so I called nearby stored. It was easy enough to find out about East Market at Fairlakes, but finding out anything about Woodland Park Crossing was like pulling teeth. I called six different stores without being able to get any information. I did better by googling "Woodland Park Crossing", and I was able to get a location, but it would be an hour detour from Fairfax. Without confirmation, I wasn't going to make the drive.
Further delayed at East Market when I noticed a barista, on break, with her blouse's top buttons undone in such a manner as to give a tempting glimpsed when she angled in certain ways. I could not help but gaze as much as possible, through the window, from my car, from the roof, from beneath the sewer grate, as I was asking her a question (just a pretense to get close). I regretted not having bought that really high-powered telephoto lens yet. Oh, why must these coffee cuties tease me so!!!
In downtown Culpeper I popped into Dee Dee's Family Restaurant, where patrons are apparently allowed to grunt unintelligibly at other customers so long as they do it off in an isolated room. Maybe he was part of the "family".
As I enrouted to Lynchburg I noticed a new yellow dot in the general vicinity. Harrisonburg. I called, and sure enough it had opened the previous day. I didn't think I had time to do both, and Lynchburg was only a few weeks old, so I headed out to Harrisburg so I could get on I-81 and make better time down to Roanoke. Once on I-81, I realized I could have still detoured to Lynchburg, but that would have cost me a chance at daylight photos of three Roanoke-area stores. Not wurf it.
Driving thru the Shenandoah National Park took some concentration, but once US-33 flattened out I had time to think again, and I noticed that I did not feel the sense of freedom that usually pervaded the start of previous road trips, when I had money in my pocket and no hurry to get anywork. This time around, with the pressure of promotion the movie, and the need to reach Nashville quickly and run around distributing flyers, my trip felt a lot like work.
Hit Roanoke in a rush to leave and reach Bristol. The supervisor was interested in setting up a photo in front of the store with other partners, but after waiting a few minutes while I checked my e-mail and some other stuff, I had to apologize and beg off. For the same of speed I grabbed a sandwich from Yuck-fil-a. By some miracle, I actually got through most of the sandwich before getting that sick regetful feeling.
Inflational ouch! Chick-fil-a sandwich and small fries $4.00, a good 4-7 cents more expensive than that last time I remember buying one.
Meanwhile, every time I sprinted to take a photo or for another reason, the pain in my right thigh flared up. The reason was no mystery--it was Thursday's attempt, my last until my travels ended, to run a 5-minute mile. The pain was a constant reminder that I had finally hit middle age.
Sore throat did not last, but now congestion & sneezing.
After a drive that was relatively slow because of the large number of state troopers along I-81, I reached Bristol at 9:20. I had hoped to kill time until my 10:00 PM interview, but then I remembered the time difference. I actually had over an hour to wait, and I was tired, so I was going to have to sleep and get woke up at 11:00. There was a Wal-Mart Supercenter conveniently located across from the Starbucks, and this would make it easy to camp out 'til morning and get a good photo.
Felt a little bit of something something during the night, but nothing specific. Unable to tell if I was getting sick.
March 23, 2007
Oh, no, no, no, no!!! Packing up so I can leave my rented room and rush to Nashville, and I feel a soreness in the back of my throat. Noooooo!!!
Left later than I hoped, 9:20, but managed to move fast enough on the PA Turnpike to reach Lititz by about 11:10. Waited as long as I could, almost 45 minutes, for a fan who had e-mailed me, by coincidence, the previous afternoon. Finally I had to go because the rain was going to slow me down, and I still hoped to meet Jill before 4:00 PM so I'd have at least two hours to make it to the Capital Gallery store.
Lancaster to Hanover was slower than I expected because, in addition to the rain, the route took me through some fairly slow back roads. One road, Bugalow Rd, was hardly more than dirt and gravel. Had I not pushed to finish up at work on Thursday, there would have been little chance of reaching Capital Gallery by 7:00.
But I wasn't out of the woods yet. Made my meeting with Jill shortly after 3:00, and cut the massage short so I could leave at 4:00, but the detour turned out to be very costly because traffic out of Baltimore was unusually (or so it seemed) heavy. The radio reported a backup on 395 due to a collision, so I decided I might as well try to stop at the Hustler Club for 2-for-1 dances. It all depended on finding parking. I got lucky and found a space, but unfortunately my memory had failed me--2-for-1 dances ended at 4:00. So I only spent 15-20 minutes in the club, but when I exited traffic seemed to have lightened none at all, and as I crawled toward the interstate it was looking doubtful that I could hit Olney and Rockville before DC.
As delays continued even after I hit 395, it looked like I wouldn't even be able to make short detours to reshoot stores in Columbia and Laurel. Then, as I passed I-695 to find traffic still backedup up, even with 75 minutes to drive 35 miles, I started to worry about reaching DC in time.
Back when I worked in Elkridge traffic towards DC in the evening was light, so I figured it was a collision. I decided to cut over to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, which meant I definitely had to skip the reshoots. I moved quicker for a spell, but traffic soon slowed down. The slowdown didn't last too long, though, and I was able to reach Capital Gallery by about 6:40. Good thing I never even tried to hit Olney and Rockville.
Got hellah lost (bad signage, I say), heading out of DC and trying to get on I-66, and I had to turn myself around twice and finally take a busy surface road. I did not reach my cousins' in Ashburn until almost 9:00, but it was wurf it--they had some mighty good grub waiting for me. They also happened to be watching three neighbors' kids, all of whom seemed to like Starbucks, and I used that as an opportunity to plug the movie as much as I could, to encourage them to tell their classmates.
Despite my cousins' entreats, I insisted on leaving rather than spending the night because I knew I'd get up late if in a bed. I stopped for gas down the street, and when I turned around I saw a Starbucks. Blast! These Starbucks are now so prevalent that I can't even remember which store is which. Oh, I figured it out quickly enough from my database, but I was left with a fond longing for days when I was younger and there were fewer stores and I did a better job of remembering them all.
After waffling a couple of times between Olney and Winchester, I finally decided to head out to the more remote Winchester so I could take a photo early in the morning. The store was conveniently located in the a parking lot with a grocery store new to me, Martin's, that was open 24 hours.