Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Year-End Wrap-Up

The past month has just flown by, and with the end of the year only a few days away I figure it's time for a quick update!

I had a really nice couple of weeks in Atlanta at the end of last month, hanging out and catching up with all my good friends there. A special highlight was a two-day trip I made up to the North Georgia mountains to visit with a good friend and long-time former client. After selling his business last year, he was finally able to execute his retirement plans to move south, "back home" to near where he grew up. He's built a beautiful mountain home overlooking Lake Rabun, and the view is spectacular!

At the beginning of this month, I spent a few days driving a rental car north to Pennsylvania, the only salient point of which was how much I missed driving Darth! As soon as I arrived here, I reclaimed my beloved truck from the custody of my good friend Marty who took excellent care of him while I was away. I spent a few days with my folks while I pondered "what's next" for me, then formulated the basic outline of a plan and have started putting it into place.

It's not really much of a "plan" per se, more like just a decision to stay in one place for a little while. I've been on the move for so long that I'm just feeling like it would be fun to be stationary for a change. Accordingly, I've decided to "settle" here in south central PA for a few reasons: First, I've got a few projects that I've been dabbling with for quite a while, and this is as good a place as any to do some more serious work on them. Second, I've got family and friends in the area with whom I'd like to spend some time and who may be able to help me with my projects. Third, it's a good place geographically in that it's close to a number of metropolitan areas without being in a city. Finally, the winter here will likely be "crisp" but not "punishing" -- just the way I like it!

So, I retrieved my camper sled from the lot where I stored it back in October and have repositioned it to a nice little "neighborhood" in the area. My neighbors are mostly manufactured homes and mobile homes, with a few RVs and campers like mine as well. It's a really nice, rural setting with pretty views of farms, woodlands and mountains.

I'm pretty well settled in now, back to enjoying the tidy, quiet lifestyle that I enjoy. I'm not expecting this to be a permanent location, of course, but it's feeling really good as a location for "world headquarters of me right now."

2011 has been another chockablock year for me, beginning with a 7-month international expedition around the North Atlantic, continuing with a thorough cross-country drive and ending with a world-class open-ocean yacht delivery. Sometimes when I think about everything I've done in the past five years, my head kind of explodes! I expect 2012 will start out a little less high-energy, but who knows where it will go from there?… Stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Long story short: On our second day of sailing out of Stamford -- at the height of our most turbulent seas -- I jumped from the boat's deck into the cockpit and badly rolled my left foot. It immediately bruised and swelled pretty badly, but I could walk on it so I just kept working. Frankly, I didn't really have much choice out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. By the time we reached Tortola, the bruising was all gone and most of the swelling had gone down, so I figured that was pretty much it.

Here in Atlanta, my friend Ken noticed that I was walking a bit gimpy and inquired as to what the problem might be. I told him the story and -- despite my resistance -- he made me see his favorite orthopedist. As Ken put it, "Dude, you're 53 years old. You can't ignore this kind of stuff like we did when we were kids!"

The doctor felt and probed my foot, declared that it was probably just a bad sprain but decided to take some x-rays anyway. After just a glance at the film, the doctor pointed to the shadowy arc inside the red circle and said, "Oh, it's busted!" The prognosis: It'll be sore for a couple more months and complete healing will probably take most of a year.

So, there you have it… I'm busted! I've had a really nice, quiet week here in Atlanta and have enjoyed hanging out and catching up with good friends. At the moment, I have absolutely no plan going forward except to take some time to ponder possible plans going forward. Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mission Accomplished

After taking a couple of days on Tortola to catch up with myself and consider all the factors going forward, I decided to declare "Mission Accomplished" on this yacht delivery and fly away. Pete had also decided to take off, so I met him at the ferry dock on Sunday morning and we made the hour long trip to St. Thomas together.

I'd made arrangements to spend a day at Bluebeard's Castle, so Pete and I had lunch together there, then he caught a taxi to the airport. I spend the rest of Sunday and all day Monday alternately napping and hanging around at the pool bar. My lack of interest in doing anything else confirmed that I'd made the right decision to get out of the tropics.

On Tuesday, I caught a non-stop flight to Atlanta where my good friend Ken met me at the airport and we went out for a nice sit-down dinner together. I've decided to spend a couple of weeks here in Atlanta to visit with friends in the area and to generally catch up with myself before deciding what's next... Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Taking A Break

At lunch on Thursday, Roy surprised me by saying he was eager to get going again and to start sailing around the islands. David Jones said he was game to sail for a few days before his flight home. Pete seemed a little less eager, but in the end decided to also go along for a few days before his schedule departure.

I took an entirely different tack and declared that I was ready for a break. There's only so much relentless movement I can do before I need a few days to sit still and catch up with myself. My crew mates all said they completely understood and supported me in getting off the boat for a while.

So, after finishing our clean up of the boat, they went to the store for provisions while I went across the road to a modest accommodation and booked myself in. My room has air conditioning, wi-fi, a bed that doesn't pitch or roll, and even a decent view.

I slept poorly Thursday night, mostly waking up every hour or so, convinced it must be time to go on watch. The air conditioning and lack of motion helped, though, and I was able to string together enough hours to make a decent rest period.

Yesterday was a slow motion day during which I updated this website, called some folks, did a few chores and generally took it easy. The heat really wears me out, and makes me seriously question my ability to stay in the region. I've been pounding down bottles of water and other hydrating fluids, but it hasn't really helped so far. I had a bit better sleep last night and will continue my rehab today.

I honestly don't know what the "plan" is, or whether or not there even is a plan. I'm supposed to hear from Roy about their next destination port and I may meet up with them somewhere in a couple of days. I may also declare "mission accomplished" on this yacht delivery and get myself on a flight out of here... Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


The last two days are pretty much a blur for me. I know we've made it to Tortola, because I can see Tropical Storm tied up at a dock in Road Town Harbor.

As for what's happened in between, here's what I remember:

We started Tuesday -- our seventh day at sea -- with a nice, favorable wind and were making pretty good progress toward our destination. We were all feeling pretty well worn out and beat up, but making the most of our circumstances. Just about the time I thought to get my camera and grab a few shots, the wind really started picking up and we had to work the boat pretty hard. The next thing I remember, we were in powerful storms, high winds, driving rain and rapidly descending darkness.

As we approached the islands, coral reefs, rocks, etc., Roy used every piece of GPS and computer mapping software we had to plot our course. David Jones drove the boat while Pete and I kept very diligent lookouts to port and starboard for lights, markers, etc. The rain was coming down in sheets, the lightning was exploding all around us and the winds were running 25-30 knots. We were constantly and completely drenched by a combination of rain and seas crashing over the bow.

By midnight we'd navigated between two out-islands and were approaching Tortola. The weather let up a bit, and by about two-thirty we were motoring into Road Town Harbor. We found an open patch of water, set our anchor, flew our quarantine flag and sat in silence for a while before finally getting a little sleep.

Yesterday morning we pulled up to the customs dock, endured a seemingly endless paperwork process then motored around to a nearby marina. We took showers, ate some food at the pub next door and gave ourselves the rest of the day to recover. I already don't remember any of it.

This morning we're continuing the recovery process, cleaning the boat, sorting our gear and starting to revive a bit. I'll try to post something more coherent soon!

Bottom line: We've made it to Tortola!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Tortola Transit - Day 6

Overnight and most of today, the sailing has been pretty frustrating. With only light wind coming from directly ahead on our desired course, we've had to tack very broadly to make any progress. Because the wind was so light, we weren't able to generate enough apparent wind over the sails to utilize the boat's usually good ability to point up.

That's sailing tech-talk for saying that we had to sail 5 miles off course for every mile we gained in our desired direction. At a speed of only about 5 mph, that means our net gain was 1 mph. Sail all day and gain only 20 miles… You could walk to Tortola faster... Ugh!

A highlight of the day, though, was when Pete caught a beautiful Wahoo on his trolling line!

As soon as the fish was on the boat, Pete artfully filleted it and we enjoyed a very tasty -- and much welcomed -- sequence of Wahoo sushi, ceviche, fish tacos and fried with rice and beans!

Late in the afternoon, the wind picked up and we were able to make some better progress despite the continued need to tack broadly. Toward sunset we were in strong winds again and had to put a reef back in the main sail. This turned out to be a lucky break for us.

As we passed through an early evening squall, we received a thorough drenching and were able to put it to good use. We all stood on deck, alternately soaping ourselves then using the runoff from the reefed main to rinse off. It wasn't much of a shower, but having spent six days constantly wet -- or at least perpetually damp -- from salty sea spray, the fresh water rain shower was a delight!

So far tonight, we've had a bit of a hassle with an electrical problem that's blacked out the boat and forced us -- among other complications -- to sail for a few hours with nothing but a compass. Once again, I have immense respect for sailors of old who didn't have any of our modern electronics. Roy and Pete have fixed the problem -- we think -- and we're hoping to make up some time overnight.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Tortola Transit - Day 5

We spent the night alternately flying every piece of cloth we have in order to keep moving through dead air, then reefing everything back in and hanging on tight through rain storms. The reason was obvious this morning as we saw the long front of storms along which we had sailed.

Last night was also very strange due to a bird that landed on the boat during one of the lulls. He's been riding along with us all day -- through continuing cycles of calm weather and storms -- occasionally flying off for a few minutes then coming back to land and stand on the canopy.

We have no idea exactly what species of bird it is, but we've made up the story that it's a shore bird who was blown out to sea. If present trends continue, it may well end up relocated to the tropics!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Tortola Transit - Day 4

We worked hard throughout the night to squeeze every knot we could out of what little light air was available. The wind freshened this morning, and by noon things really kicked up!

We're now at almost exactly the half-way point of our transit, back to hanging on tight and riding the beast!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Tortola Transit - Day 3

The wind pretty much died overnight, so we've had to do some motoring today. We need to get a bit farther south before we can pick up the trade winds that will take us down to the Virgin Islands.

It's definitely getting hotter and sunnier as we go along, so we're setting up the awnings to give us some shade on deck. One of them required a little sewing, so Jones got after it with a heavy duty needle and thread.

There was still no wind after all our chores were finished, so a few quick, refreshing dips were in order. Roy says "Come on in, the water's fine!" It's really that blue, too!

After all that, we were still in very light air so we let the autopilot do its thing and spent some time hanging out and waiting for wind we could sail.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tortola Transit - Day 2

Our fabulous winds eased quite a bit during the night and required some pretty constant course and sail adjustments to keep the boat moving in good trim. We have settled right into our watch schedule -- 2-hours on, 6-hours off -- made much easier than our run down to Bermuda by the addition of our fourth crewman!

The winds have stayed light all day, but we've made a pretty consistent 7 knots. The boat has correspondingly settled down as well, so we've been able to cook meals, take naps and work the boat with some degree of comfort and control.

Pete is an avid fisherman who has wasted no time breaking out the trolling gear he picked up in Bermuda and dragging it off the back rail of the boat!

We are all very hopeful he catches a fish soon, though tonight we had to suffer through the sunset without Tuna sushi!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Tortola Transit - Day 1

After another night of wind and rain, we finally made it out of Hamilton this morning. Captain Roy navigated by iPhone -- which turns out to be one of the best and handiest navigation options available! -- while our new crewman David Jones took the helm.

After a pleasant 90-minute sail we were back in St. George's, and shortly after that we'd fueled up, checked out with customs and headed back to sea. By noon we were passing the old fort and saying good-bye to Bermuda.

The winds were perfect for the rest of the afternoon and we made very good speed on our desired course. I thought a "first day" photo of my shipmates my be useful for comparison when we reach the Virgin Islands in 5-7 days.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Bermuda Departure Update

Yesterday turned out to be a pretty nasty day, raining almost the whole time and blowing like mad. So, we extended our stay at the RBYC in Hamilton.

Today is very nice, with a sunny, bright blue sky and plenty of wind. Sadly, the wind has been coming from exactly the direction we want to sail. Since we'd have to spend so much time -- and effort -- fighting our way into it and tacking so far off our desired course, we're better off just waiting for better wind.

The weather gurus are assuring us that the wind will indeed "clock around" overnight and be good for us by mid-day tomorrow.

Our "plan of the moment" is to move the boat to St. George's this afternoon and be in position for finally setting sail tomorrow.

For centuries, mariners to and from Bermuda have faced our exact same circumstances, so we feel like we're in good company!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bermuda Lay-Over

We began Friday by doing some much needed boat keeping: washing the boat, disposing of our trash, re-stowing all the gear that had shifted around during our run and generally making things ship-shape again. We were met late morning by David Jones -- our fourth crew member for the run south -- and had a good time sharing our experience so far.

David easily convinced us to reposition to Hamilton -- the main town of Bermuda -- because there's a lot more to see and do here. So while Roy, Pete and David motored the boat around the island, I took David's scooter and did some land-based chores and errands en route to meet them.

Finally, we have a photo of Captain Roy! The boat -- Tropical Storm -- is tied up and looking good at the famous Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.

We've all spent yesterday and today catching up with ourselves, working on the boat, doing laundry, eating fresh food, drinking just a few cocktails and generally hanging out. Tomorrow morning we will re-provision the boat and motor back to St. George's to clear customs, etc. If the weather does what it's expected to do, we will be back at sea tomorrow afternoon. If not, we'll set sail just as soon as weather conditions are favorable for us to reach the trade winds and run down to the Virgin Islands.

That brings you up to date for now, and I'll post the next update just as soon as I can once we reach port again. We're expecting the transit to take 5-7 days, so... Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Bermuda Run - Day 5

Thursday was a beautiful day for sailing! We set our sails for a strong, steady beam reach and powered our way toward Bermuda. On a day like this, it's easy to forget the other days!

For those of you who may be technically inclined, here's a photo showing one of our gauge clusters: 15.4 knots of wind giving us a speed of 8 knots. We probably could have gotten a little more speed out of that wind -- and certainly would have tried to if we were racing -- but 8 knots is a good average cruising speed that didn't require us to constantly work the set. That's an important part of the equation if you're going 24 hours a day with a limited crew.

By mid-afternoon the tiny island of Bermuda came into sight -- exactly where we expected it to thanks to all of our GPS technology! -- and we cruised into quaint little St. George's Harbor.

We tied up at the customs and immigration office for the usual process of paperwork, then made our way to a small local marina for the night. As fast as we could, we secured the boat, took showers and headed into town for a hearty, hot meal. We toasted our successful Bermuda run, then hit our bunks for some much overdue sleep!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bermuda Run - Day 4

By Wednesday morning, conditions had eased a lot, with winds from the southwest at 10-20 knots and seas that were much more comfortable. I was happy to be able to resume my full watch duties.

In addition to restoring the full main sail, we flew an immense asymmetrical spinnaker that really gathered up the wind. The autopilot was mostly able to cope with this sail setting, but the stronger gusts would overpower it at times and require very swift intervention on our part to help steer the boat back down wind. Pete went up on deck to check out the rigging and caught a very artistic shot of his shadow against the spinnaker.

By late afternoon, the wind had freshened enough to take down the spinnaker and hoist the jib. This allowed us to put the autopilot back in complete control and let me do what I do best: Sit back and watch the horizon to make sure we don't hit anything!

The wind increased still more in the night, and when I relieved Roy at 1am we were barreling along like a freight train. The boat is extremely powerful and it was a thrilling -- though some times a bit scary -- ride!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bermuda Run - Day 3

Tuesday was a rough day in just about every way. The wind almost dead astern at 25-35 knots with gusts as high as 50 knots! Although the wind-generated waves and seas were generally following us, the Gulf Stream was coming in from our starboard bow with a mind of its own to offer us wild cross-waves. All combined, we were pitching and rolling in a very chaotic manner. Roy said that in all his years at sea he's never seen such a "confused" sea.

In the photo above, you can see able seaman Pete working the helm. Although the autopilot on board is extremely good, the chaotic seas were pushing it beyond its limits and we had to hand steer the boat much of the time. You can also see at the far right of that photo that we were running the main sail with two reefs in it.

In the inset photo you can see that we were flying only a very small piece of the jib -- hauled in tight -- only to help act as a stabilizer. Even with so little sail, there was so much power in the wind behind us that we were barreling along at 12 to 15 knots!

The sailing conditions were well above my personal skill set, so although I could spell Roy or Pete for a few minutes at a time during my watches, I was unable to stand them alone and they had to do some double duty. I felt badly about not fully pulling my fair share, but in circumstances like those we faced you have to admit your limitations.

We were all working the boat so hard -- and were all sufficiently exhausted and banged around -- that we didn't take many photos, but here are a couple more to help give you the idea of the following waves and cross waves.

Conditions remained this way pretty much throughout the night, and we were each happy just to have a couple of hours to lie down in our bunks despite the impossibility of sleep. In all, Tuesday was one of those days when you can rate your experience extremely high on the "accomplishment" scale and correspondingly low on the "enjoyment" scale.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bermuda Run - Day 2

It was pretty calm overnight as we rounded Montauk point and headed southeast toward Bermuda. Sunrise showed us an amazing flat calm which none of us ever expected from the Atlantic Ocean.

As I took my morning watch I saw a little bird huddled down on the deck behind some coiled lines, obviously quite happy to be sheltered from some of the wind and cold. Roy fed it some bread crumbs and sugar water which seemed to really help it perk up. As the morning warmed, the bird fluttered around the boat for a while, giving us looks as if to ask where we might be headed. By afternoon it had made a couple of test flights away from the boat and back, then finally took off for good and headed west toward land.

So far, the only problem we had was that we'd run out of propane! Somehow in the process of provisioning the boat we had neglected to double check the tanks, with the result that hot meals became a thing of the past and we had no chance of hot coffee! Pete and I initially threatened mutiny, but bucked up and proceeded to get by on Nescafe made with hot tap water and an endless series of cold meat sandwiches and bowls of cereal.

We continued to sail throughout the day in generally mild seas, though the wind began to pick up, the swells were on the rise, the waves became more choppy and the temperature dropped. My evening watch was pretty cold and I was happy to be able to sit all huddled up while the autopilot steered the boat.

Overnight, sea conditions became markedly more dynamic, making sleep virtually impossible between watches and general boat keeping much more complex and demanding.

The Atlantic ocean may not have been treating us badly, but it wasn't giving us a free pass either!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

At Sea!

We provisioned the boat this morning then were joined on board by Pete, an experienced sailor who has crewed for Roy in the past. We got underway just after noon and headed east to transit Long Island Sound. There's been no wind so we've done a bit of motoring, but we expect to be sailing as we round Montauk Point later tonight and head southeast for Bermuda. The sunset was excellent!

We've had a good hot meal to prepare us for a night that promises to be quite chilly, and are settling into our routine. I'll be thrilled if there's enough connection over my iPhone to post this, but don't expect to hear anything more for a few days... We're at sea!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sailing South

I've dragged out the whole "what's next" thing about as long as I can, so here's the deal: I'm in Stamford, CT, ready to meet up with my friend "Captain Roy" and get underway on a yacht delivery to the Virgin Islands!

The boat is a 48-foot X-Yacht performance cruiser, well designed for long distance, open-ocean cruising. It's the same boat, in fact, that Roy and I moved from San Francisco to Seattle back in 2006. So, we are very familiar and comfortable with it.

This last point may become very important, because as of my last communication with Roy it was unclear how many additional crew members he has lined up for our voyage.

Although it would be great to have a couple of extra hands on board -- not only to help handle the boat but also to sit watches and allow us to get some decent sleep -- Roy and I have moved the boat alone before and know that we can do it again if we have to.

That's partly my way of saying that as great as a sailing trip to the Caribbean sounds, it will be a long, hard sail for a short-handed crew. I'm not complaining, mind you, just inviting you to keep in mind that I've got several weeks of 24-hour days ahead of me. Even when you do get to sleep, it's usually short naps in a pitching and rolling bunk, interrupted by necessary boat-keeping. In other words, it's a sailing trip that will be a fantastic experience, but not quite as pleasurable as it might sound.

We will leave Stamford as soon as we have rigged and provisioned the boat, probably on Sunday. Depending on the wind and weather forecasts, we will either follow the coast to Cape Hatteras before heading to the Caribbean, or go on a southeasterly route via Bermuda. In either case, we will probably take 3-4 weeks to reach the tropics.

That's where the fun will really begin, because the owner of the boat won't be taking over until the middle of December. Which means that if we can get there by the middle of next month we'll have use of the boat for our own enjoyment for about a month. Plenty of time to do some great tropical cruising!

What happens after the owner takes over is not entirely clear, but at this time he has indicated he plans to use if for only about 10 days -- until right after Christmas -- and would like us to then sail the boat back to Florida for him. If all goes well, I'll probably do that and be back on the mainland shortly after the first of the year.

Although we will have ample navigational and radio technology on board, we won't have any internet connection. Since we'll mostly be open-ocean sailing, we won't be making many port calls either. So, I don't expect to post many -- if any -- updates until we reach the Caribbean.

I will shoot plenty of photos and videos along the way, however, and look forward to giving you a full report as soon as I can from the tropics.

Until then, fair winds and following seas... Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My "New" SP Kennel Dogs

"My dog" Teddy -- seen here in a photo I took at the end of the 2006 Iditarod in Nome -- has officially retired from racing. She is one of the truly great team dogs of all time and the dog who first really hooked me on sled dog sports.

By all accounts, Teddy is enjoying her status as a doyen of SP Kennel, spending her days between lounging around her dog house and training youngsters about what it means to be a sled dog who never quits. Teddy is a "dog-dog" -- as opposed to a "people-dog" -- and belongs with her pack mates at the kennel, rather than somewhere else on someone's couch. She may be retired from professional racing, but she's got a long, full coaching/training career ahead of her.

Like most humans who have ever met her, I have always been in awe of Teddy, and I have been honored to sponsor her for the past five years. Thank you, Teddy, for everything you are.

Aliy called me the other day to ask which dog's sponsorship I wanted to pick up now that Teddy is retired. We both had a good laugh, actually, because the answer to that question was decided two seasons ago when I pointed to a very special puppy with whom I bonded the moment we met and said, "I dibs that dog!"

Mac is now officially "my dog" and I wish him all the best as he becomes all that he can be. One of the truly great things about SP Kennel is that every dog is recognized and respected as an individual. Mac may turn out to be a long-distance racing dog, or a middle-distance racing dog, or even a freight dog. We don't know, and we don't care. We only want what's best for him. He's an outstanding canine, full of life, energy and love. My life is already better for knowing him, and I look forward to being a part of his future… Whatever it may be. Get after it, Mac!

I have also decided to "go public" and "make it official"… Happy is my dog, too!

Some of you may recall that Happy and I have a special relationship, made famous by a kiss. It is so hard to describe Happy in a few words, because just when you think you've got her figured out she completely surprises you. She acts like an idiot most of the time, but she adapts easily to whatever is thrown her way. She'd never raced in her life, then finished the Iditarod. She barks her head off at the kennel, then she behaves like a princess when staying at a fancy hotel. She constantly does "the Happy dance" like a dervish, then sits as quiet as a mouse on an airport waiting room chair. There's something about Happy that has always amazed and inspired me, and I bet that's true for many of you as well.

I don't know if Happy will ever race again, and I honestly don't care. She's already proven herself as a fantastic, amazing dog, far beyond any expectation or imagination. What I do know -- and care very much about -- is that one day Happy and I will be together. Whether we're driving cross-country in my rig, open-ocean sailing or just hanging out, she'll look at me -- probably like it's the first time she's ever met me -- and say, "Hi, I'm Happy! I'm always happy! That's why they call me Happy!"

(Note to Aliy: That's me saying "I dibs Happy in her retirement!")

To Mac, Happy and all the fantastic dogs at SP Kennel, I wish you a great season and another fine year of a dog's best life…

Love, Macgellan

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Update: Time Flies!

After completing my US 50 road trip, I drove up to south-central Pennsylvania and spent a week visiting with family and friends. It rained almost constantly -- sometimes what I'd call "Biblically" -- but I stayed dry and comfy in my camper, and Darth had no problems with anything, of course!

Last week I drove upstate New York to do a little preliminary scouting for something I've got in mind for next year. It's not nearly clear enough to describe yet, but if it comes together I'll let you know.

The highlight of my week, however, was having dinner in Rochester with my niece Christine and her friend Tyia. You may recall that Christine and I last dined together in Paris, and although we had a Mexican feast this time we did our best to maintain tradition by ordering multiple desserts. Thank you ladies for a very memorable evening!

Over this past week I've cleared out my camper and put it in storage. I've handed Darth over to my good friend Marty -- whom you may remember from my summer travels in Alaska -- for him to use and take care of this winter. I've also packed up a bunch of stuff and stored it in the garage at my parents' condo.

Why have I done all this? I promise to reveal "what's next" very, very soon… Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

US Hwy 50 "End-to-End" Part 3: St. Louis to Ocean City

Here's the video for "Part 3" of my US Highway 50 "End-to-End" road trip:

All of the images are from my DashCam, which shoots still photos once per minute whenever I'm driving and video whenever I want. The music is one of my favorite pieces by Jonathan Coulton which I've long wanted to use and finally have a video for which it kind of fits!

Note: Now that it's done, this series of DashCam videos doesn't seem as cool to me as it did in my mind when I started. I'm not sure it's worth the effort, and I'm ambivalent about doing it again on my next road trip. Let me know in the comments if you like it, if there's something else you would like instead, or if I should just skip it… Thanks!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

US Highway 50 -- "End-to-End" Officially Complete!

The last drive of my US Highway 50 "End-to-End" road trip began with a stint across the rolling hills of Virginia, and through a few quaint, really old villages. Despite the heavy overcast, it was lovely.

Because US 50 passes right through the heart of downtown Washington, DC -- right along Constitution Avenue and everything! -- I decided to leave my camper rig back in Winchester and make the drive in Darth unencumbered.

I am very glad I made that call, because I can't imagine having to drag my rig through the DC traffic!
With that mess behind me, I entered Maryland where the landscape really opened up and offered me an easy hour or so drive to the coast.

I arrived in Ocean City and have checked into a little beachfront Holiday Inn -- my other home! -- for the night. Before doing so, I stopped to find the sign I've been waiting to see since I saw it's reciprocal 3,073 miles ago in Sacramento!

With that, my US Highway 50 "End-to-End" road trip is officially complete! It's been a fantastic drive: Over the California mountains, across the desert on the Loneliest Road, over the Rockies, progressively across prairies, grasslands, farmlands, woodlands and, finally, over the Appalachians and on to the Atlantic Coast.

I've made the trip a lot faster than I originally planned -- for reasons that I promise to explain very soon! -- but that didn't really detract from my enjoyment of it. There's something fantastic about rolling so far across such vastly different regions that's hard to describe. Every time I do it, I am strongly reminded that America is quite probably the most varied country in the world, and that regional differences in the republic should be protected from the kind of "one size fits all" lawmaking that seems to be the vogue. Drive coast to coast sometime and see if you get what I mean.

I'm going to return to Winchester tomorrow and collect my rig, then head up to Pennsylvania to visit with family and friends for a couple of weeks. After that, I've got something pretty amazing lined up... Stay tuned!

Click here to see exactly where I am posting this from on Google Maps.