These are Frank’s diary entries, with the newest entries at the top.
Mark, dit is je verjaardag,
Je verjaardag gaat zomaar niet voorbij,
Want de jarige ben jij,
Daarom ben ik ook zo blij,
En zing ik dit liedje voor jou.
Mark, dit is je verjaardag,
Je verjaardag gaat zomaar niet voorbij,
Met een welgemeende wens,
Voor een heel bijzonder mens,
Zing ik dit liedje voor jou.
Mark, je bent de sterrehemel,
Zonder jou kan ik helemaal niks doen,
Zelfs niet naar de pot gaan.
Jij bent het beste in alles dat je doet,
Je kan het beste naar de pot,
En jij maakt mijn wereld mooi.
Zonder jou ben ik niks,
Wat zou ik ooit zonder jou doen?!
De sterren zeggen dat ik me verveelende kop moet houden,
Dus tot volgend jaar,
En je kan van alles en nog wat doen,
Dus geniet d'r van!
You is 14, little bwudah. Just a year and 9 months until you can drive (only 16 days until I can :) ). Now comes high school, which you'll probably enjoy. At first, you'll miss middle school, but you'll get over it when you see the interesting characters which make up my school. The work load gets harder, but in exchange you get much more freedom. No longer will you get calls or emails home if you don't do your homework. It's all up to you. Please use responsibly.
Right, end lecture. Happy birthday, Viel glück zum Geburtstag, Feliz Birthdayos (me speak good Spanish), etc. Just remember: FOUR MORE YEARS!!!
Frank (aka, Hermano Major)
Today, we got up, loaded the car with whatever we needed, along with the six little plush animals we won :). We buckled Goofa and Pennsa in, and headed out. We went into Michigan, and then, for a first, into Canada. They actually do use kilometres in Canada (that was kinda a bad pun...)
We drove from Detroit to Buffalo/Niagara Falls. In between, it looks exactly like America, except the speed limit is 80... km/h, that is. One thing I did notice is that there really isn't that much litter on or next to the road. It's a very clean country, at least the part we saw. Their version of our Route 1 is about 90 times cleaner. In Canada, we followed the Canada Route 3 all the way from Detroit to the Falls.
At Niagara Falls, we walked around the terrace, but didn't go down to the actual falls. We left that job over to my dad, who especially wanted to take pictures, since he didn't get a decent chance the last time he was here. We waited above and played in the fountain while my dad knocked himself out taking pictures. .
For dinner we went to an Italian restaurant, where I had spaghetti with olive oil and garlic. That was really good, and exactly what the doctor ordered, at that point. We watched the elevators go into an observation decks, and I remarked it looked like anal pills, which my parents didn't quite like, but took pictures nonetheless.
Today is Monday the 13th, or as Garfield would say, the worst day of the year. It turned out otherwise, thankfully. :)
We got out of bed, got dressed, etc. We ate breakfast, and headed out to Cedar Point, in Sandusky, as Mark and I were to spend the day there, in the amusement park, while our parents went out to do whatever they were going to do. We arrived at the park at around 10.15, and got inside around 10.30.
The first ride Mark and I went to was the Top Thrill Dragster. This roller-coaster launches you from 0-120 mph (almost 200 km/h) in 2 seconds. You then go up vertically 420 feet (130 meters), and come back down, decelerating again along a ½ mile (4/5 kilometer) space of track. This coaster was easily the most fun in the park.
After Top Thrill, we went to Corkscrew, which was wimpy, then on to Gemini, which was fun. After that, we went and ate a snack, and decided to play one of the guessing games. Mark had the lady guess his birth month (August), and she got it wrong, saying March. He won a shark which he promptly named Steve. I did the guessing game, and I won a teddy bear which I named Goofa. We repeated this, having the lady guess our weights, and again we won, this time, Mark got a plush dog, which he named Bilbo, and I got a plush dog named Pennsa.
We rode the Sky Ride ski-lift type thing a few times, just for fun, and went back to the guessing game again, where we won another two animals, a dolphin named Dotty, and a frog named Freddy. All in all, 6 little animals were won by us. We rode the Sky Ride again, and when it was time to go, we left. We rode some other roller coasters, but I'll let Mark cover those :).
We stopped at a gas station for a drink (Mark had water, I got a Coke), and we went back to the hotel. We climbed into bed, and we watched Super Nanny for an hour. To think that parents can be that bad... wow... We went to sleep at 23.00.
Today we visited the Ford “Rouge” Factory, in Dearborn, Michigan. Whoopee, we gave money to a company which produces trucks which they boast get 17 miles per gallon. My moms hybrid gets more than 45 miles per gallon...
At any rate, we visited this factory, and we looked around. We saw different parts of the Ford F-150 pickup truck being assembled, although the line wasn't moving, due to it being Sunday. I guess it was interesting to see, although it's not something I personally would have done with my time.
Afterwards, we went into Detroit, and ate at a Middle Eastern restaurant. The food there was great, although Mark would say otherwise. When we finished eating, we went back to the hotel, and stayed there for the rest of the day, eating left overs from the restaurant for dinner.
Today we woke up, got ready for the day, ate breakfast, loaded the car, etc.
We drove into Indiana in a matter of minutes, and then into Michigan an hour or 2 later. We found out that we could get to Detroit, Michigan before closing of the Motown museum. That's actually good, because it means that we won't have to do it tomorrow.
We visited the Motown museum, looking at the exhibits, and seeing what else there was. Outside of the museum, we treated ourselves to an ice cream, which served as lunch. We switched back to eastern time (finally!!! this is a huge milestone), and we had this ice cream at 14.30 EDT, while our bodies were on 13.30 MDT.
In any case, after the ice cream, we went to the Henry Ford museum (not like I want to give money to a company that doesn't give a flying flip about the environment, or to one which has an anti-Semite as it's idol...). The tours were finished for the day, so we decided to come back tomorrow.
As of writing, we're sitting in the car, on our way to Toledo, OH, where we're staying for the next three nights while we visit a lot of places in Michigan and Ohio. We booked a room at the Sleep Inn, so we'll see how that turns out. No pictures yet, sorry.
Today is another big city day. That makes me happy, although I'm still not game for getting up early (unless I'm flying...) So we get up and eat breakfast. Today, we're driving into the city without the carrier on the roof – that's stored in our hotel room.
We continued by driving along Lake Michigan... The water is rather clear here, for some reason. We park in a parking garage, and head out on foot for the Sears Tower.
We get to the Sears Tower, and we buy our tickets. We then wait for 15 minutes to see a movie lasting 10 minutes about the tower. We finally get up to the top to find out that our view is obscured by clouds, with the cloud base being maybe 100ft. below us. That was irritating.
In any case, when we descend the 1400ft back down, we go to the Giordano's pizzeria, where we ate a pizza for which we waited 45 minutes. However, this pizza was the best pizza I had ever eaten, it was definitely wtw (worth the wait).
On the way back to the car, we passed a LaRouche PAC stand, manned by college students (or what appeared to be so), and an interesting bus station ad. What you see in the picture is what you see as you walk by, with the pixelation varying in degree depending on how far you walk away.
After this, we visited the first McDonalds in the world, although we couldn't get to it. The McDonalds sign has changed a lot these 50 or so years.
We visited O'Hare airport, and saw some cool aircraft. We went back to the hotel, where Mark went to the pool, and I watched TV until 23.00, when we turned lights off.
Today we drove from Ames, Iowa, to Chicago, Illinois. This was only 300 or so miles. A days drive. We drove a lot, and I do mean a lot. From mid-Iowa to eastern Illinois. The drive was boring, and some more boring.
Coming into Illinois, we passed the 90th Perpendicular :), aka, W090º 00.000' (N41º 61.417'), aka ¼ around the world from the Prime Meridian. I had to have a picture, so I got one, along with an awesome picture of me.
We traveled along the highway, and put up for the night in Tinley Park, Illinois, right outside of Chicago.
Today, we visited moms infamous homesteading site. I, personally, don't think there was much to see. One thing I will say about the museum is that their seats are very comfortable :).
“We saw a homestead cabin, and this one was relatively luxurious, as it was made with wood. Many homesteaders had land in places without trees, and they had to make their initial homes out of not much more than mud. The cabin we saw was a single room, with a bed, a table, two chairs, a stove and a small cabinet. That's all. We probably carry more "stuff" in our car on this vacation than people had in their homestead...” (See copyright below)
“From Beatrice we went north again, past Lincoln, up to a town called Columbus, Nebraska. Here we visited the Andrew Higgins memorial. Higgins was the founder of Higgins Industries and designer of the landing craft that were so instrumental in the second World War. It was these landing craft that enabled D-Day in Europe and many invasions in the Pacific. Without them, the allied forces would have had to conquer heavily fortified harbors, rather than be able to invade less fortified beaches.” (Copyright Nicoline Smits... what ever is in quotes in this entry is NOT my original work. All credit to her... See? I don't plagiarize!)
For dinner we ate at a Chinese restaurant, and had ice cream at a dairy queen for dessert. Yummy.
Breakfast today wasn't very good. I don't like Sausages much, and there wasn't much else. We pack the car and head out.
We pass original prairie (nothing that interesting) and drive on to Red Cloud. At Red Cloud, we find a spot to eat lunch. My mother makes mashed potatoes, “spurgee” beans (spercie bonen), and regular beans. I eat the mashed potatoes and the spurgee beans.
We pester our parents to let us swim at the pool next-door, and we get permission. We swim, and dive, and have a great time. All too soon, it's time to go. We reluctantly get out of the pool, get dressed, and move on.
We end up for the night in Beatrice, Nebraska. We go to the local diner, and, when we get back, watch SVU and go to bed.
Today we woke up in the really cool (both metaphorically and literally) Ramada, with the awesome atrium. We go down to breakfast where they serve very nice and fresh French toast and eggs.
After eating, we head to the Brown v. Board of Education memorial building, where we hang around for a little while, learning about the case, and how it impacted how we learn today. All the usual stuff.
After that, we went to the zoo, something Mark really wanted to do. We visit a “bird house” which was cool. They had a really cute Mouse Deer there. It's kind of like a cross between a deer (the torso, legs, and midsection area), with a mouse (the head and feet). It was really cute.
After the zoo, we went to the Jiffy Lube, where we service our car while eating our Panera subs. We head back to the Barnes & Noble, and read the night away.
Today we drove a long way through Kansas. That's rather boring, but we did see some interesting things along the way. One of a sign protesting the Kansas School board, and painting them as “Moronic Dumbasses”, which I whole-heartedly agree with. They really are dumb.
At any rate, we went on to Topeka, deciding to skip the John Brown memorial, which was fine by me. In Topeka we checked into a Ramada which had a very cool atrium type thing. The pool wasn't too bad either, and it had Internet, as did almost every place we've slept :). We spent the latter part of the night in a local Barnes & Nobles, which allowed me to catch up on Flight Simulator news, through the magazines.
Today, we left Colorado in search of Kansas. Big surprise, we found it!!!
My parents bought my little brother the card game UNO yesterday, so today we will spend most of the day playing it. We even play it at lunch, while we were picnicing at the side of the road. That was fun...
Anyway, we drive out to the middle of nowhere, where we visit the Sand Creek national historic site. The newest national park in the country. As a tribute, we decide to leave our palm-leaf rose there, which has been with us for the last 8000 miles. Now that I think about it, it's kind of sad.
We drive on into Kansas, where we find a hotel to sleep in for the night. We eat at the Sonic right next to the hotel, and go to bed.
Today was a “fly-day”, where I fly between two cities while my parents drive the distance. We got up around 6, and put everything on and inside the car. We ate breakfast, and drove out to Salt Lake International, not too far from the hotel.
My father went inside with me into the check-in area, where we printed my E-ticket for Delta/SkyWest flight 3938, after some struggling with the machine. There was nothing to do at the check-in side of the terminal, so I decided to head through security, and walk around on the other side. The line for security was long, but I got through without any problems.
At the other side, after putting my shoes on, I decided to walk over to my gate in the E concourse (E77, with the physical gate being E39). It was just a door, and boarding was two and a half hours away, so I decided to walk around the terminal a while. I bought myself a $1.75 Coca-cola with a $5 bill, and the machine gave me back 2 dollar-coins, something I've never seen a machine do before.
As I walked around, I met a family from Holland. They were sociable enough, but they had a 16 hour trip ahead of them, so I left, and went back to the gate area. I found a chair and watched the incessant coverage they had about that collapsed bridge.
There was a flight departing to Eugene, Idaho, which needed volunteers, but the gate attendant had put the volunteer sign under my Denver flight. I was going to volunteer, and get a later flight, plus a travel voucher, but it was the wrong flight :(. I wanted that travel voucher.
At 10.40, the flight began boarding, and I was among the first on board. I didn't ask to see the cockpit this time, since the CRJ-200 I was flying was rather small, and other people obviously wanted to get to their seats. I sat down in seat 10A, and made myself comfortable.
We took off exactly at 11.24, off of runway 16R, after taxiing on F3, B, and A11. The ascent went smoothly, and the takeoff noise wasn't to bad, even being that close to the engine. The 10,000ft ding came quickly, and as the flight attendant came by, I got a coke and a bag of crackers.
The flight was at cruise for around 40 minutes long, and the descent began quickly. We passed through cloud layers with the occasional thump of turbulence, but otherwise smoothly. Soon, we had lined up parallel to an American Airlines MD-83 for a simultaneous approach to 16L (them) and 16R (us). We touched down at exactly 12.24 local time, after a flight of 1 hour and 2 minutes.
After touchdown, we taxied off of the runway at D3, passing runway 16L at WB, continuing on G then CS, finally arriving at gate C44. As we deplaned, I purposefully made myself the last one out, to be able to talk with the pilots, and I learned some details about the aircraft, and the ride. I shall list them below, for anybody who cares:
- Aircraft was CRJ-200 (I knew that)
- Reg: N431SW
- Route: TCH J56 CHE.TOMSN4
- V1-135 VR-138 V2-141
- Vref45 – 141, with a -2.2* nose down pitch on approach.
I walked off the aircraft into the terminal, and looked for a place to eat. I called my brother to tell him I was in Denver, and learned they were half way there. I ate a quick lunch at the McDonalds in the C terminal food court, while watching a Northwest A320 park at the adjoining gate. It really is interesting to see.
After lunch, I explored the terminal a bit more, and decided that there wasn't enough to see, and to go on to the A and B terminals. I boarded the train to the A/B gates, and, the announcer who announces the train is arriving makes it sound like an achievement... he got really annoying. At any rate, I walked around the A gates, and made a video of the Lufthansa A340-300 being pushed back for Munich, which was a really interesting thing to watch.
After watching the push back, I went to the United terminal, at terminal B, and sat down for a while, waiting for a B777-200 to arrive from San Francisco. As I was sitting, a pilot arrived who was dead heading to Chicago, and was hoping for a standby seat on the United flight. I talked with him, and learned a lot about the airline business, until my mother called, telling me they were waiting for me in front of the east terminal. I walked out there, and got in the car.
We drove to a Chili's for dinner, but I didn't eat much. We drove on to Castle Rock, and checked into a Quality Inn there. We learned that it was a good idea not to drive down to Colorado Springs, because every hotel down there was booked solid, due to about 5 different conventions going on at the same time. Lucky us, eh?
Around 20.40, I went to sleep.
Today began great, my father dropped his $1000 (thats right – one thousand dollars) camera and two lenses (each $1000 [!!!]) on the hard pavement. Luckily, it didn't break, otherwise we would've had a bad day.
We drove down to Lava Hot Springs, in Idaho, and, along the way, I figured out how to use the GPS which we hadn't used all vacation.
The drive down to Lava Hot Springs was uneventful, but, as soon as we checked into the motel, we headed out to the pool. This was the interesting part. This pool was an Olympic training pool, with dimensions to match. It even included three diving platforms, one at around 4 meters, one at 7 meters, and the last at 10 meters . Of course, Mark and I had to jump off of them. We got our waivers, and headed to the first platform, 4 meters off the ground.
This being the first time I've ever jumped off of something this tall, I was rather nervous. I did jump off, and went up to the 2nd platform. After jumping off of that one 3 times, I thought I was ready to go up to platform 3, 10 meters off the ground. I looked over the edge, and that was it. I went back down to platform 2, and jumped off of that one.
This time, I went back up to platform 3, and waited for everyone else to jump off. It was my turn. I took a few steps back from the edge, and ran up to, and over the edge. The feeling that came next was very, very interesting. The feeling of falling, and your arms aren't doing anything but being a nuisance. It is a very weird sensation, feeling nothing under your feet, 33 feet up in the air. Hitting the water is also not exactly comfortable. In fact, after jumping off the third platform 8 (yes, 8!!!) times, I was rather sore.
We exited the pool, and went down 3 blocks for dinner. We ate burgers, and went back to the motel.
At 00.00, Mark and I woke up, and got our swimming trunks on. We were going to go to the hot pool which was open 24 hours a day. We went outside, and went to the pool, where we went swimming, in the pitch black, while it was raining. We went back, and around 00.45, we went back to sleep, and slept until morn'
Todays drive wasn't very long, a measly 180 miles (300km). We drove from Gillette to Cody, Wyoming, passing through mountain gorges and everything like that.
We ate lunch at a place called Ten Sleep, which had good burgers, but the mayonnaise was very old, and was very disgusting. We filled the car with gas, and headed out.
We arrived in Cody, and got everything out of the car in a motel I had reserved ahead of time. We also found out that the front desk had free passes to the swimming pool, so we got two, and my brother and I headed for the pool. We swam at this pool for about 2 hours, and met some kids our age, a group of about 10 or 15. We all swam and played and whatnot, before it was time for us to go.
When it was time to go, Mark and I got dressed, and we went down a few blocks to a “gun show”, where we saw a “western” being acted out in front of us. It was really cool. And it was loud, very loud.
After seeing this show, we piled back in the car and headed to the local movie theater where we watched the Simpsons Movie. That was extraordinarily funny. (Homer - “Spider Pig, Spider Pig, does whatever a Spider Pig does. Can he fly? No he can't, just because he a cute Spider Pig”).
After the movies, we went to the Wal-Mart and back to the Motel.
Today we got up and got ready for the day at our motel, we were going to drive most of the way through Montana.
The first place we visited was the Museum of the Plains Indians. They had, on display here, all sorts of artifacts, some dating back to the early 1800s. No photos were allowed inside the museum, so we (obviously) didn't take any. It was kind of interesting, but I could have thought of better things to do with my time.
After leaving the museum and driving for a while, we stopped in Great Falls for lunch, at a place with a playground. Mark and I went swinging and played on the playground while my mother made us lunch. We ate lunch and moved on.
We stopped at a place called Lewiston, at a Super 8 Motel. We checked in, and put the stuff in the room before heading to the front desk to find out what there was to do in town. The woman there told us that the fair was in town, so we decided to check that out.
The rodeo itself was, in my opinion, pointless violence towards animals, but I guess it's fun for some people. We watched all sorts of wrestling and stuff like that, with a clown to entertain us during the more boring parts. This wasn't really my type of thing, and I didn't particularly enjoy it, but it was an experience.
We went back to the motel, and turned in for the night.
Today we visited Glacier National Park. I didn't enjoy it so much – in fact, I didn't enjoy it at all, at least not in the beginning. We got up early to go to the park before it got too crowded, and headed for a trail. Once at the trail, my mother, being terrified of bears, started clapping to “ward off” the bears. The bears wouldn't give a damn if she clapped or not, they'd still eat her. So, off we go, my mom clapping, and me wanting to get it over with.
We finished the trail, and headed off to do another one. We finished this one, the one with thousands of screaming kids, each of which I wanted to slaughter in an equally vicious way. In any case, we finished this trail, too, and headed back to the car. We drove out of the park, and went back into it at another point, where we hiked another three miles. We came back to the car, and drove back through the park back to the motel, where we watched Law and Order: SVU before going to sleep.
Today was another driving day. We started out at our motel in Priest River, Idaho, and backtracked a bit to get pictures of the different state signs. .
We drove on, and went past a rather rocky road (rather, we drove on it). Not too much fun – it shakes you up nicely, those unimproved road surfaces. We also got a picture of the Montana state sign.
We got to a motel, where, for a nice price, my brother and I could get a separate bed each, a TV, and a bathroom (to share with our parents). We, of course wanted to go for it, and we did. That made us happy! My brother and my dad went out to the Glacier National Park to ask for pamphlets and the like, and my mom went to do laundry, while I was left in the room, airing out the tents after Mark's smokey fire.
Afterwards, we went to the dollar store, where we got a broom to clean out the car, and went to the grocery store, where we got ice cream. My parents paid us the $5 entrance fee to go swimming at the local pool, so we went and swam until 20.15, when the pool closed. We went back to the room, and ate ice cream for dinner, then watched a comedian, and went to bed.
Today we woke up rather early (to my chagrin) because we wanted to catch the early ferry, and not wait until around 10 or 11 for the next one. So we got up, got a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, made by my lovely mother (can I have $5? :-D).
Once we got onto the ferry, Mark and I decided to catch up on sleep, so we found a bench (which was in the sun...), and rested our eyes. The trip took 1 and ½ hours, so we had plenty of time to sleep.
After we got to land, the really boring part started... driving, driving, and more driving. We stopped for a snack and continued driving. We decided to crash in a motel in Idaho, after driving all the way through Washington. We ate at a Burger Express, where we ate the best burger of our lives (now I know what Jule's Big Kahuna Burger tasted like :-D). Wow... Then we slept.
Today, we woke up, and, surprisingly, it was dry. I know, it's amazing, right? After we got up and ate breakfast, etc., my brother and I went to the little beach type thing, and hung around, just exploring and fooling around. We found a starfish type thingy, which looked really interesting.
Between the exploring and leaving for kayaking, nothing much happened. We ate lunch and hung around until 12.00 when it was time for us to go. We piled into the van, and drove to the north part of the island, only to find that we apparently weren't scheduled for a kayaking trip. My mother talked on the phone with them, and they said they had never heard of us. We decided to go for another tour company, and it ended up paying off.
We got into the kayaks, and we kayaked away from the docks into the actual harbor. As we kayaked around the harbor, we watched wild life, picked up trash, and raced. A seaplane landed in front of us, so I went up and talked to the pilot, who was kind. Overall, the kayaking was a lot of fun.
After the kayaking, we got ourselves a snack, and headed back to the campsite. On the way back, we saw an alpaca farm. These things are so cute, and their fur is also really soft. Mark said that he now wanted an alpaca ranch when he grows up, and he wanted an alpaca for his birthday.
We got back to the campsite and Mark wanted to make a fire. We let him make his fire while my mother baked pancakes. That was good stuff. Mark made a lot of smoke (which got all over the clothes), and eventually made a fire.
After dinner, the family went down to the “cliffs” or whatever they are, and watched the sunset. I remarked how incredible it was that the sun was setting for us, but our relatives in Holland were just having the sun come up. I think that's rather interesting.
Today was a day which was tuned more towards me, because we were going to visit Paine field and the Boeing factory there, with a stop along SeaTac field. As always, the day started out with packing and breakfast, and then we were on our way.
Our first stop of the day was a water tank near the north end of the North-South runways at Seattle-Tacoma International airport. The view reminded me of a week previous, when I had flown into Seattle. The weather was almost the same too, which I found amusing. The weather was typical Seattle weather, cold, wet, and gray. I can't complain, though, I like that type of weather.
As we drove on, we passed the actual factory (of which we were to take a tour later) where the aircraft are made. We saw a T7 and the new 787 through the cracks in the door. The doors themselves are huge, being the size of an American football field each.
There are no pictures of the actual inside of the factory because anything electronic was forbidden, including cell phones, pagers, etc. The factory is huge though, and we got a view of the new 787 under construction. It looked cool, although not really to my taste. It's too new. I'd much rather fly an older 777 or 747 than a new 787. I can't stand the look of it...
We went on, and caught the ferry to San Juan island, where we are to spend 2 nights. It was cold, wet, and miserable, and I was not looking forward to camping. When we got to the island, things were no better as we set up camp in the rain. I slept fast, but it was freezing that night (not literally, but it felt like it.)
Today is the day that the last Harry Potter in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out. Seeing as today was a drive day, and thusly, not much occurred, I'll write about the book. :)
The book really was a fitting ending to the series. I won't say what happened, but I think that if you've followed the series from start to finish, you'll like the conclusion.
Almost every mystery from the past is revealed, going all the way back to the Sorcerers Stone. Although, I could never figure out the one where Dumbledore said, "I? I see myself holding a thick, woolen sock," to Harry, when asked what he saw when he looked into the one mirror.
Anyway, good book. I read it all the way through in one day. If you've read the series, I highly recommend reading the ending. You won't be disappointed.
Today we visited Crater Lake, which was a nice little thing. I thought it was gonna be boring as all get out, but it really turned out to be interesting. We woke up in our motel in Eureka, and packed for the day. In any case, we were our way. We crossed a bridge and were in Oregon.
As we went around the lake, we found isolated patches of snow. Of course, Mark and I couldn't withstand the chance to have a snowball fight in mid-July. That was a lot of fun, although the snow was very cold, and we were wearing flip-flops.
There were some interesting views over the lake, and my father took some nice pictures of them.
We drove on from Crater Lake, not doing any of the hiking trails, because of the altitude and the temperature. Not only is the water temperature average 38*F, the surrounding area is around 58*F in July. Rather chilly.
In any case, we moved onto Prospect , to a hotel where the earlier President Roosevelt stayed (apparently) , so my mother wanted to see it. My parents and I went out to a semi-fancy dinner while my little brother stayed in the room with pizza and soda and watched TV.
Today, we woke up at that decrepit, ugly Motel in Oakland. Obviously, being this area, the weather outside is gray and foggy. We woke up to a towel filled with human feces outside our door... I don't want to know what they were doing...
In any case, we get the car ready to go, and head on our way to Eureka, CA. Our first sight of the day is Lombard Street, the “crookedest street in the world” (yes, I know that's not correct English, but that's what it's called)
After going down Lombard, we go over the Golden Gate Bridge, which takes us right through a cloud. It was actually really cool. My dad got some nice photos from the other side of the bridge.
After the Golden Gate, we headed on to Eureka, which was, at the time, around 300 miles away. On the way, we find the Redwood Forest, where we are going to drive through a tree. :) That was fun, but with the big pimple on top, we don't fit, so we just pretend. It still looks interesting.
We get to the Motel where we are staying, and we need to do some housekeeping, to the tune of refilling a lot of the water bottles, and cleaning them. I arrange them rather neatly, which I think pissed Mark off.
We eat dinner at a local fast food joint, and Mark and I head off to see Harry Potter 5. Pretty good movie, although it's a bit short to represent the entire book. Oh well.
Around 23.30, we head off to sleep.
Wahwoo!!! Today is a city day! Me happy. After all that green and fresh air, etc. it's time for gray, drab, and smog!
Anyway, we woke up, ate breakfast and got ready for the day. We were in Oakland, and to visit San Francisco proper, we had to take the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train to get to the city. We walked to the station got the ticket, and boarded the train. After a short ride, we were in the city.
Immediately, we saw a cable car. We inquired with the driver as to how much a day pass would cost, and it was cheap enough that we got 4 of them – one for each of us. We rode this first cable car up a hill from the Embarcado station to Powell (?), and then tried to catch another one down to the Fisherman's Wharf, but failed. All the cars going downhill were full. We decided to walk.
We got down to the Wharf at Pier 41, and we walked down to look for tickets to Alcatraz. They were sold out until next Sunday (duh), so we decided to give it a pass. We walked on to Pier 39, which was pretty cool. There we had lunch in the form of Pommes-Frites, and saw a street performer be really funny.
After Pier 39, we walked on to the Ghirardelli Square, where we ate the most delicious chocolate I have ever had :). We all had ice cream and multiple samples of chocolate (which Mark pronounces “chock-full-of-s**t, after an experience we had at a Safeway back home...)
We walked down to a cable car turntable, where we waited for a while for cars to fill and leave. We got on and the guy who was driving was apparently in a horrible mood, because he yelled at almost everyone who did one tiny thing wrong.
We took a bus to Haight and Ashbury, where there were “smoke shops” almost everywhere. More like, “buy-your-bong-here-along-with-marijuana” shops. Back in Maryland, those things are very much illegal. One of the attendants told us that even the signs that said, “intended for legal use only” are pretty much BS. The attendant told us they had tried to use it for tobacco, and it didn't work too well. Besides, we all know what bongs are for...
So, we went and ate at a nice little coffee shop (no, not an Amsterdam coffee shop), and got on the bus to go back to the Motel. Waiting at the bus stop, a woman was cussing someone out about their girlfriend or something. It was rather funny.
We got back, and Mark and I watched a hidden camera program which was pretty funny. Then it was off to dreamland.
This weekend my parents decided to camp Saturday and Sunday. I knew how fun that would turn out...
So, to begin, on Saturday, July 14th, we wake up, and Mark begins to flip out that today's Moorpark/EATM day. Joy. Me being a teenager, I'm trying my hardest to act dead so they'll leave me alone to sleep in a comfortable bed.
In any case, I'm eventually coaxed out of my (warm, soft, etc.) bed, and put on my clothes to head out to breakfast. We get to the breakfast place, and I'm not feeling all too hungry, so I grab a few yoghurts and an egg, plus a cup o' coffee, and sit down to eat it.
When we get back to the room, I go off to check my email, and, while checking my facebook, learn that some kids in my grade whom I know were involved in a very serious car accident, and they are in critical (but stable) condition at various hospitals around Ellicott City. Before you start speculating, police say alcohol was NOT a factor. Some of the kids were Medi-vac'd to Johns Hopkins trauma, and they all have some sort of broken bone - one has a punctured lung. Nice way to start the day, no?
I'll let Mark cover EATM in detail, I don't much care for it, so I'll skip it for now.
We drive along I-5 and route 99 to get to Sequoia National Park, where we plan to camp for 2 days.
We get to the campsite, and get a spiel by the ranger, telling us what to do, and what not to do if we see a bear. He also tells us examples about what has happened in the past week with some dumb kids. Scary stuff, man.
So, we go and set up the campsite, and my mother cooks pancakes. Mark and I get a fire going, despite the reluctance of my mom. We eat, and keep the fire going, clean up, put everything out of reach of the bears, and go to sleep.
The next day, we wake up, and we can't make coffee, because we can't get the water to boil. We eat bagels next to the fire pit which contains a single (MASSIVE) pine cone , which a neighbor from a neighboring campsite brought to us. Mark and I go collect firewood for the night while our parents clean up. We manage to get a decent pile of wood and kindling.
After breakfast and wood-collection time, we head out into the physical forest, since, after all, thats what we came to the bloody place for. The first thing we do is go and see the General Sherman tree, which is really, really, really big. I'll let my mother cover this tree in depth, because, frankly, I don't really see the significance of a massive tree...
Anyway, after the big tree, we do a trail, the Congress trail, to be exact. The trees along this trail are pretty much all Sequoias, and are bunched together so that there are little "groves", which the park has named, "the House" , and, "the Senate" . There is a single tree named, "the President". These trees are really huge. You'd really be surprised. I knew that they were supposed to be big, of course, but the width really took me by surprise. These things can easily be 30ft (9m) in diameter.
After this trail, we decided to go to the Visitor Center or something or other, where there was another big tree. We were going to do a 2 mile, 1 hour walk, but after all we've seen, we were too tired to do it, so we went back to the campground and held a siesta. I went into my tent and shut my eyes for an hour and a half. When I got up, my mother had made a fire, and we were going to eat s'mores and hotdogs. After this fire went out, my brother made a fire on which we cooked the hotdogs. They didn't turn out too bad.
After we ate the hotdogs, I made a larger fire over which we were going to make s'mores. After a bit of finessing, I got it going, and it went. It was huge... Mark made a burning man "" out of kindling, which actually looked cool and at the same time, dubious. . A deer came by rather very close to our campsite, and just sat there and ate for a while. The fire got very hot - we were able to light a completely wet stick on fire within seconds of putting it in the white-hot ashes. It was awesome.
We finished off our s'mores, and went to bed. Later, there was apparently a bear across the street, because there was a scream of, "ELISHA, THERE'S A BEAR!!!" It was horrible, because she continued like that for about 10 minutes, and I (probably, also nobody else) could sleep afterwards.
Anywaaay, we woke up the next day, and decided to go into Fresno for breakfast, because we were to lazy to make it ourselves. :) We ate brunch at a Denny's and drove on to SFO/Oakland.
Today I woke up at around 5:30, and went to get dressed. I wanted to be up early, because today is the day I get to fly. I got out of bed, dressed, and got my things ready to go. My dad got my brother out of bed, as I went down to see when breakfast was served (6:00).
When my brother was up and ready, we started loading the car with everything. The big black thing on the roof, the bags... it took a few minutes. When we were done, we came inside and got breakfast. After breakfast, we made sure we had everything, and we left in the car. Now the fun part.
Las Vegas Maccarran International Airport was not 5 minutes from our hotel... possibly 2 minutes at most. In any case, my mother and I got out in front of the Alaska check in area, and went straight to a e-check in kiosk. My boarding pass was printed, and we walked over to the security area. It was taking too long, so my mother left before we got there. I was going solo.
Security was a breeze, not too long a wait, but I forgot to take off my shoes, so I took them off and went through without a hitch. As I boarded the monorail to take me to the D gates, I called my mother to tell her I came through security in one piece, and I was heading out to the gate.
At the D gates, I went upstairs to my boarding gate (D26) and since I still had an hour and a half left before I flew, I walked around and looked at the different aircraft parked around the concourse: mainly Alaska 737s and a Delta 767. I bought a water bottle for $1.99 (no tax) as I was waiting, and continued to walk around the terminal. As 8:45 rolled around for boarding time of Alaska 663, I got on the aircraft (737-800) and asked to see the cockpit. I was allowed in, and walked in on the first officer completing the route-entry. I asked a few questions about departure runway (25R), weather (light winds, 28 Celcius), etc, and turned a knob controlling range of the "Moving Map" (EFIS, I think, or EHSI, or some other E-acronym). I went back to my seat, and got buckled in at seat 17A.
We taxied out to the runway as the flight attendants were showing the safety demonstration. The captain apparently forgot about this, and ordered the flight attendants to their seats before they finished. They still managed to finish, though. We took off, and after a rather steep climb, settled into a step, and then climbed higher, up to FL380 (38,000ft).
Let me say that the 737 is the loudest aircraft I have ever been on. The takeoff noise, and cruise noise were close to deafening. My ears got used to it, but it took a while.
The coming down part was really fun. A bunch of people in the back were "rapping" and commenting about how the aircraft was pointed up while they were supposed to be going down (you leveled off, dumb@55es), and being generally loud and obnoxious all the way to the gate. They were yelling to the front of the aircraft, "You ready, Lavrone?", and stuff like that. Really annoying.
Anyway, there was a layer of cloud maybe 1000-2000ft think, about 1000 -2000ft off the ground which we descended through. No turbulence save a slight bump right on top of the cloud layer. Breaking out, we passed right over Boeing Field (BFO) where we could see the new 787 sitting on the tarmac below us (!!!), along with a Japan Airlines 777 being serviced or something of the like. Landing took a little bit (the captain told me we were constantly being vectored for another downwind, as ATC couldn't figure out whether they wanted us on left or right downwind, and we ended up being vectored out to Paine Field (PAE)), and, as later explained by the captain, we hit another (landing) aircrafts wake turbulence just before touchdown, causing a "hard" landing. It was fun, though. The first officer welcomed me back, and gave me a few cards describing the aircraft and some other older ones (DC3 era).
As we taxied in (for those of you who have an airport chart handy - 16C, M, B, A), we went around the N gates, and turned into D8. I deplaned and headed into the main concourse to get something to eat. I decided on Chinese (which was expensive - $12 for the cheapest meal. I had all of $14 with me, including the $10 from my dad. Do the math: $1.99+$12.00 = $13.99; $14.00-$13.99 = $0.01), and ate at the big glass window thing. It was very nice, and I noted how clean the airport was. After I ate lunch, I went to the C gates, to catch my connecting flight (Alaska 480) at gate C15. The flight ended up being delayed to a boarding time of 13:30, and a departure time of near 14:00. I got on, and got seated in seat 30F, in the MD-80 (probably -82 or -83), which is a DC-9-80, which is now a B717 (well, no, thats a MD-95, which is a DC-9-95, but anyway...). The flight attendant was very nice to me, she got to know my name and all.
By the way, I highly recommend Alaska Airlines for travel. I had a lot of leg room, nice service, and a lot of food :).
We took off, and, even sitting in the back, the noise was less than the 737... go figure. As we were climbing, the flight attendants and I had a nice chat, because their jump seat was directly in line with my row. The back of the aircraft itself was very empty. It was me and 2 older people in the back 5 or 6 rows. Not too bad. We passed over sights the rest have yet to see, such as Mt. St. Helens, Crater Lake, etc. Very nice views from 36,000ft up.
We descended into Los Angeles, and the landing was smooth enough. The aircraft seemed to slow down rather fast, and we taxied along taxiways Y, E, and D10 to reach the gate (31B). My little brother called to tell me they saw my plane land (which they didn't) and were ready to pick me up.
I walked out of the concourse, and went to the curb where I was picked up by my parents. We left the airport, and I found out that they saw a 737 instead of a MD80 land, meaning they didn't see me land. Oh well...
We drove to the Pacific Ocean, and I stuck my finger in. I have touched the Pacific Ocean :) . We drove on, and ended up around Miri or the like, where we put up in a VERY nice Holiday Inn Express for the night.
gonna be leaving Las Vegas today, we didn't bother putting anything in the car – it also saves on space. At any rate, we were off, and headed towards the Hoover Dam.
We came down a road with a view of the lake behind the dam, so my father got out and took a picture of it. As we came farther down, and the dam itself came into view, I was somewhat disappointed. I thought it was going to be larger.
We signed up for a tour of the inside workings, et al. of the dam. We took an elevator down around 600ft to the bottom of the dam, where we saw the hydro-electric power generators which are sufficient, even with a few off line, to power the area between, and including Las Vegas and Los Angeles. That's a lot of power. They even generate their own power, so theres no need for taxpayer dollars for power.
We went back to the hotel, and, since my brother weren't all to interested in going to the Venetian to see what that had to offer, my parents bought us pizza and soda, and we stayed in the hotel room watching TV and playing on the Internet.
Today is July 11th, and you guys know what that means: Free Slushies at a 7-11 :)!
Anyway, today, we didn't wake up too early. We are driving to Vegas, baby. I do love cities. Besides, there's only 2 days left until fly-day. Me is excited.
We cross the river into Nevada, then back into Arizona, and have lunch at a Chilis. Their door handles had little towels on them because it was too hot. It was around 115*F or so, I think (around 46*C) The food wasn't bad at all.
Once we finish lunch, we get on the road again, on the way to Las Vegas. We reached Vegas on the I-515, and unfortunately missed the:
(W)(E)(L)(C)(O)(M)(E) To Fabulous LAS VEGAS
sign, which disappoints me a bit. I'll live, though.
I called a hotel close to the Maccarran Airport, and the rooms were extremely cheap ($53.10 a night) for the Las Vegas area. We booked it, and it all turned out fine. We were sitting right under the approach path of the 19s at LAS, so we could see several aircraft landing.
Mark and I went to the pool, which wasn't too cold. We dove right in, and had ourselves a grand ole' time.
After the pool, the family went out to dinner (which we never did have...) and went out along the Las Vegas strip. That was something else. I didn't know what to expect, but it exceeded every expectation I had.
Since my brother and I can't (legally) do much in Las Vegas, our parents took pity and bought us tickets to get into the Stratotower, or whatever it's called. We bugged them into giving us tickets for 2 rides, and they succumbed to our pleas (maybe it was just Mark's "hottness", as he calls it).
We got to the top, and what a view... You sit 900ft (250m) up, and you look down at the strip. Heck, you could even see Maccarran =D.
Mark and I decided on the rides X-scream, and Insanity. They were fun, but they gave my mom a slight heart attack. You hang out over the tower, 900ft above the ground.
We got down from the Stratotower and headed into town. We went to the old strip, on Fremont St. That thing was cool. We saw a lot of interesting things, and the ceiling was an awesome light show.
I wanted to add to my Mardi Gras bead collection, but I couldn't, which made me very sad :(.
Anyway, we got back to le Hotel and turned in. I loved it, but we never did get that free slushee.
We got up, got dressed, loaded the car, and got on our way to the Grand Canyon. We got to the canyon without much ado.
I guess we've become Jaded after the canyons we've seen, because the Grand Canyon really wasn't as good as we had expected. Oh well. My father wanted to see the sunset there, so to kill time, we hiked a trail, and went to a few lookout points. This isn't my type of thing, so I'm not going to write much about it.
We got an Ice Cream, and Mark and I went exploring. We came across yet another group of Netherlanders, but we didn't stop and chat.
We saw the sunset and headed on our way to the campground. Since the fire danger was extreme, my parents didn't want to build a fire, and, as we had set up camp earlier, we got into our tents and went to sleep. My father got a picture or two of the stars.
Today we woke up in the room at the Ruby's Inn. Let me say that I really like this Inn. It's clean, and has a lot to do.
We got up, and got ready for the day. We put on our hiking boots, and went out to catch the shuttle to the physical canyon. We got to the canyon, and decided to hike about 2 or 3 miles. As we descended along a switchback, our father took a nice picture of the family.
We hiked along two trails, and we got some really nice pictures, although it doesn't really do the canyon justice.
We met up with some people from Maryland, also drove out here (they were American, though).
We got back to the Inn, and Mark and I headed for the pool. He went out to do a Horse riding program which he really wanted to do, while I stayed in the pool and played with some Dutch kids (although they spoke Flemish... hard to understand). We ate dinner at a fast food joint and went to bed.
We packed up camp and drove, not much happened today. We drove to the Ruby's Inn, at Bryce Canyon.
I got up today as my parents and my little brother were watching the sunrise from our balcony. It was really pretty, and we were able to see a deer up close. My brother and I ate breakfast in bed, and then got up and got ready for the day. We loaded the car, checked out, and were on our way.
Our first stop of the day was the Valley of the Gods. I was watching “The Day After Tomorrow”, which was not an appropriate movie, because it was literally hot as Hell here. Anyway, we drove through the valley for an hour, on steep, uneven, and hot terrain, and got back to a paved road.
We drove on to Gooseneck State Park, where we were planning to camp for the night. Mark and I explored the lower area, while my parents read their books under a type of lean-to . Here was our second encounter with a pair of Dutch people, a whole family. Coincidentally, they live in DC, and drove out here.
In any case, there was a storm approaching, so we decided that it would be best if we didn't camp. That was fine by me, I didn't want to camp anyway. We packed our stuff, and drove on.
We got to a mountain which we had to traverse, and it was steep. We did get a nice view going up, though.
We did end up camping though, we just plopped down in a campground, and decided to pay later. My parents set up their tent, but Mark and I were tired, so we decided to sleep in the car.
Today we woke up, and packed up. We were going to visit the Four Corners and Mesa Verde. We ate breakfast and headed out.
You hear a lot about how there is so much to see in Arizona and that area, and I guess there is, but there are what seem to be infinitley long stretches of nothingness. Where you are bored beyond all belief. There's barely any civilization, either. Rather lonely place.
At any rate, we got to the Four Corners monument without much ado, and we all stuck our body parts in four different states at once. My father and I were also caught in a dust storm (or dust devil, we're not sure which) as we were looking for a place to get a snack. It hurt, that little storm. The dust is like a massive sheet of sandpaper going against your body. Also, we came back into New Mexico for the last time before going on. That wasn't too bad – both Arizona and New Mexico were getting really, really boring.
After the Four Corners, we drove on to Mesa Verde, in Colorado. The altitude difference was rather extreme to our bodies, and all of us were getting light headed and tired, so we decided not to do a strenuous hike, but a calmer hike, with not too many dips and what not. It turned out to be a good idea.
There were warnings posted in the parking lot of the tour which we were preparing to do that there were professional thieves hanging around, so we hid the laptop under a chair, and got on our way to see the Pueblo dwellings. Down at the waiting area, we met our first (almost) fellow Netherlanders. We had a conversation (in dutch) with them, and went on our way. Actually, I didn't know it then, but there were a bunch more Netherlanders we were to meet. They seem to infest the west.
Anyway, we went on this tour, and it really was something. The outlook at the tour waiting area itself gave an idea of what we were to see down at the actual dwellings. Once we got to the dwellings themselves, we saw that it really was very cool. It had started to rain, and we were sheltered from it down in the dwelling area. Those Puebloans were really very clever.
We came back out of the dwellings via a set of ladders (the Puebloans used little handholds to climb up almost 100 feet (30 meters), even the pregnant women had to do this. Imagine climbing up 100 feet with your belly being massive, and a big sack of corn or whatnot tied to your head... not easy to do.) and got back to our hotel, and, since the rain had cleared, we got an awesome view of the surrounding landscape. It really was cool. We got a really nice rate on the room too, we had thought it would be more expensive.
Today, my parents got up early, and left us $5 for a hot breakfast at the campground. They wanted to see the painted desert without us whining. That was fine by us. We wouldn't have wanted to see it anyway.
When they got back, Mark was in the pool , and I was in the cabin, on Facebook, checking email and so forth. My parents asked where Mark was, then changed, and went off to join him. That's fine by me. The rest of the day was rather uneventful. We hung around in the playground, on the “porch” that the cabin had . Mark showed me some rather lewd Dane Cooke youtube clips. They were really funny, albeit not appropriate in terms of language.
As the night rolled around, we were going to watch fireworks, and we hung around the playground waiting. Some kids walked up, and they wanted to play, which was fine by us – we were bored as all get out. So we went up to the game room with them, where we played pool, and, apparently, missed the fireworks. Oh well.
We went to bed around 22.00, and slept fast. We would be leaving tomorrow.
Today we visited the VLA (Very Large Array). That was the highlight of today. At the VLA, we saw a really massive radio dish, and by really massive, I mean MASSIVE. The thing is almost 100 feet (30 meters) tall. At the gift shop, my father bought a very interesting T-Shirt.
Anyway, we took a nice little self guided tour of the VLA, where we got to see one of 27 radio dishes. I actually found it rather interesting. Also, to appease Mark, we saw a bird with an injured wing. The bird was put, by Mark, back up into its nest.
After the Very Large Array, we went on to Pie Town, our first “city” past the continental divide. I of course had to stop at the continental divide and pour water on both sides :) . The pie shop at Pie Town was closed for the 4th of July holiday, but we had lunch there regardless. Mark acted silly again with some antlers he found.
Today was also the first day we were in Arizona. No Arizona cacti, though... too bad. We visited the petrified forest. That was a big flop for Mark and I. Geez, my parents were fawning over every piece of wooden rock... The “forest” was a disaster. It was hot, dull, and boring.
After we finished a trail there, we went on to the painted desert, although, again, Mark and I could not see whats so interesting about it. We did see what appeared to be a forest fire in the desert, though... that was cool.
That was pretty much all the “interesting” stuff for the day – we got to the cabin at the campground, unpacked, and slept. Tomorrow would be Independence day.
Today we drove from the Carlsbad area to Socorro, New Mexico. As you can see, my brother and I make ourselves comfortable watching movies, etc.
We stop by a storage field for older aircraft in Roswell, New Mexico. A lady drove up and shooed us, because it's a secure facility, and you're not supposed to take pictures. :)
For lunch, we stopped at a local gas station in Hondo, New Mexico, and ate Chimmychungas, a type of deep fried burrito.
For dinner we ate at an "authentic" Mexican restaurant. Service was slow, but the food was okay.
Not much happened July 2nd, so the post won't be too interesting. Sorry, guys.
My last "diary" entry was June 30th, so I thought I should probably write another one - not just because my relatives (ie, grandparents, parents, etc.) are pressuring me.
Today, we drove from Johnson City, Texas, to Carlsbad, New Mexico. Interestingly enough, there are a bunch of Carlsbads all over the southwest. My brother and I noticed this after we passed a couple in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. You'd think it was a unique name, but it's not.
There was nothing really special in between leaving Texas and going up the mountain, so I won't bore you with an entry describing movies I've watched, the temperature of the car, what have you. Instead, I'll go directly to the drive up to the Carlsbad Caverns.
Once we got up to the top of the mountain/hill/whatever, we looked around, and let me tell you, it really is something else. You could see for miles, just like you were looking out an airplane window, except you have a larger field of view.
Mark and I ran ahead of our parents, and we breezed through a lot of the exhibits and rock formations. After all, in my opinion, seen 'em once, seen 'em all. Anyway, we got to the end of our particular trail, where you could choose to exit or stay on the trail, and do another mile and a half (2.5km). We ended up staying on the trail and seeing the rest (Mark and I wanted to see the "bottomless pit" of about 300ft (90m) deep). My mom was getting very annoyed, though, because it was a lot of the same, and it was cold, and it got boring. The pictures of this whole "expedition" are below.
After the caverns, we left and headed to our camp ground, where we had reserved a cabin. The cabin was smaller than anticipated, but we all fit. It had A/C and electricity, with the water not 10 ft (3m) away. My dad and my brother headed back to the caverns to see the bat flight, where 300,000 bats fly out of the cave at sunset. They said it was really cool, but they weren't allowed to take pictures... They came back rather late, and ate their dinner.
We went to bed around 10ish (Midnight EDT, 4 in the morning GMT, and 6 in the morning CET) and went to sleep.
The pictures of the Caverns:
So, the trip in and of itself has been going nicely, more so than earlier. New Orleans was actually a really cool city. The drive in was also really nice, crossing lake Ponchartrain -- that 26-mile-long causeway. I got some really nice pictures of the sky over said lake there:
I especially liked the Bourbon street... that was really fun. If you walk past a certain point after around 6ish in the PM, the people on the balconies throw Mardi Gras beads at you. I got 2 green beads :). Lots of drunk people there... There were some very interesting shirts on display there, one of which my brother bought. It says, "I got bourbon faced on shit street." Some other interesting ones include, "F**k milk, got pot?" (Without the stars, of course), and "I've got the body of a God -- Buddah." Things like that, and "Big Ass Beers", along with "Hand Grenades" (the type of glass the beer is served in...) etc. makes bourbon street - indeed, New Orleans in general worth a visit. The hotel was nice too, but the swimming pool smelled really funky.
The next morning, we got up, and went to the Café du Monde for breakfast, a 20 minute walk from the hotel. It was already plenty warm by the time we got there. We had French beignets (loaded with tons of powdered sugar, which my dad saw fit to eat with a spoon... pure sugar... the crazy) .
After that, we headed to the ferry to take it over to Algiers (?) or something to that effect. We quickly popped our heads into the World of Mardi Gras workshop type thing. We headed back, and went to the Riverwalk (mall) where Mark and I ate pizza (however, not after he had a SNAFU with the number of slices to be ordered...)
Thereafter we went to the WWII/D-Day museum and walked around there before walking for 45 minutes to the Park Ranger creole music thingy... By the way, the WWII museum there was really worth the visit, a lot of knowledgeable people (a WWII vet whose life had been saved by the famed Higgins landing craft was there, my brother and I learned a lot about the landing craft from him. For instance, did you know that the landing craft used in the movie Saving Private Ryan were really Korea and Vietnam-era landing craft, because the authentic WWII landing craft were scrapped after WWII.) Anyway, after that, we headed back to the hotel, ate more pizza, and went to sleep.
After we left New Orleans, yesterday (June 29th), we headed out to Texas, passing a quaint little Cajun Music museum in Eunice, where we stopped for lunch. We headed out, and when we reached Texas , we stopped at the welcome center. Would you believe that they are still proud of supporting the idiot-in-chief?! I never knew such people still existed.
We drove down to Gilchrist, and swam in the Gulf for a little while (my dad lost my flip-flops which I so dearly loved :) ) . We ate dinner at a pizza place, where we had our first experience with real-live red necks (!!!). Their necks *are* really red. Anyway, when we left, my mom was bitching, to which my dad said, "mom doesn't bitch", to which my mom replied, indignantly, "I do so bitch!". It was funny...
We crossed from Port Bolivar to Galveston via a ferry, which was very interesting , and we drove until around 10pm, when we pulled into a Super 8, and headed off to dream land.
Today, we've driven around 300 miles as of writing, coming up to Johnson City now. We'll see how today turns out.
So, today began out lovely. Jeez. I woke up around 3:10 ('cause it's impossible to kick me out of bed any earlier) and I head downstairs to work with the MP3 player, and load it with music before we leave.
Great Success!!! NOT!!!
The damn thing wouldn't connect right, so I wasn't able to add music. So I figure I'll just do it with my father's laptop. However, since he's running Linux, it's going to be next to impossible to get it running properly, seeing as it requires the Windows Media Player 10/11 drivers, which Linux obviously has issues with.
Anyway, we get in the van, and it's much more cramped than anticipated. It sucks. My mother is busy doing something, I'm not sure what, but it's taking forever. We leave a couple minutes afterwards, and I catch some shut-eye.
So we've passed 3 or 4 rest stops/gas stations, had breakfast and snack, and as of 11:00am, have entered North Carolina. Good, Virginia was getting extremely boring.
Anyway, we're still en-route. God knows how long it'll take (too long).
Mark, to answer your question, the police departments use little aircraft (ie, Cessna's, Piper's, etc.) and they give chase from the air. The aircraft give cops an idea as to where everyone is, and help in any way possible.
You wanted me to make a diary entry? Here ya go!